The Florida Panthers promised to be busy during free agency and they kept their promise as they added 6 players to the roster. The players included Willie Mitchell, Al Montoya, Shawn Thornton, Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenzie and Dave Bolland. These players bring in a nice combo of skill, toughness, veteran leadership and playoff experience that will be very valuable to our young team. Signing these guys also adds depth that will allow the younger players like, Vincent Trocheck and Quinton Howden to fine-tune their skills further before making the jump to the big club. Lets take a look at each of the signings individually and grade them. In the last free agent grades article we will look at veteran, scoring winger Jussi Jokinen.
Jussi Jokinen – 4 year contract worth $16 million – Grade A
When free agency opened, Panthers fans were hoping GM Dale Tallon would be able to reel in a player who knew how to put the puck in the net. And it didn’t take long as the first signing the Panthers made turned out to be left winger Jussi Jokinen.
Jokinen spent last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and was a huge part of the teams success in both the regular season (21 G, 36 A) and playoffs (7 G, 3 A). Jokinen’s best season came back in 2009-2010 when he scored 30 times and added 35 assists for a mediocre Carolina Hurricanes team and to be quite honest, I think he can come close to those numbers here in Florida. Jokinen is also very good at shootouts and some of you may remember this sweet shootout move he pulled off against former Panthers and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
Jokinen will play on one of the top two lines and there is a chance that the Cats will have an all Finn line with Bergenheim, Barkov, and Jokinen. Personally, I think this signing will work wonders for the Panthers as it provides a much needed jolt to our anemic offense and as you can see in the quote below, rising star Aleksander Barkov seems to be ecstatic about the addition of his fellow countryman.
“That’s good for me. It’s like a dream come true to play with him, I met him at the Olympics and I really like him. He is a nice guy and a really good player.” – Barkov on the Jokinen signing
“He wanted to play here because of Barkov and all of the young, good players that we have in our system, he was excited to get an opportunity to play with Barkov. Getting to know him at the Olympics this year was a big plus.” -Tallon on the Jokinen signing