Earlier in the 2017 offseason, the Florida Panthers organization announced that Jussi Jokinen’s tenure as a Panther has prematurely concluded.
The Cats bought out the remaining 2 years of Jokinen’s salary in an attempt to save cap space. The move saved the Cats $2.7 million per year over the next 2 seasons, but caused FLA to sacrifice a valued, highly respected member of the team. Jokinen proved to be an influential teammate as he was a notable leader in the locker room, as shown by the organization previously naming him alternate captain.
Although Jokinen experienced a tumultuous, unproductive 2016-17 where he amassed a disappointing 11G and 17A for a total of 28 points in 69 games. Jokinen established a career low in points for a season as he often struggled to generate scoring opportunities for himself and linemates as shown by his staggeringly low amount of points.
He was a liability on the defensive side, as teams typically took advantage of his slower skating ability due to his age (then 33-year-old). He was an insufficient -15 and committed 39 unwanted penalty minutes, thus contributing more scoring chances for the opposition with his lackadaisical efforts on the ice. The combination of those reasons presented ultimately led the departure of Jussi Jokinen.
However, Jussi was able to quickly land on his feet and strike a deal with the Edmonton Oilers for 1 year worth approximately $1.1 million. He’ll provide a veteran presence to a competitive and talented Oilers club in search for a playoff berth in consecutive seasons. Although Jokinen’s horrific play angered Cats fans and frustrated the Panthers organization, many beloved him for his previous 2 seasons where he was an incredibly reliable and extremely productive player.
Often placed on the 2nd line, Jokinen found immediate success in his first 2 seasons with FLA as he totaled 104 points in 162 games. His 2015-16 was his greatest in a Cats uniform as he registered an impressive 18G and 42A for an astounding 60 points helping to propel FLA to a division title. He had incredible chemistry while playing on the wing alongside impactful forwards Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck . The 2nd line consisting of those 3 players was arguably the Panthers most dependable line as the Cats normally relied on them in critical moments throughout every game which resulted in an outstanding 103 point campaign (franchise best).
Jokinen was notably effective in the Cats memorable 1st round series vs the New York Islanders which saw the unexpected early elimination of a promising, yet overachieving Panthers club. In 6 grueling playoff games, Jussi achieved 1G and 3A for 4 points attempting to fend off the offensive juggernaut that was the Islanders who squeezed into the playoffs as a wildcard. He was instrumental in the Cats dominance throughout the infamous 2015-16 season and will be remembered for being an integral part of the 2016 club.
When Jokinen arrives at the BB&T Center during the 2018 season as a visiting player, the Panthers organization will certainly embrace his positive contributions in a deserving video montage consisting of Jussi’s greatest Panther highlights. Jokinen was an efficient scorer and tremendous passer often creating quality scoring chances in the offensive zone. He was an important part of the power play unit which although experienced its struggles, the power play was somewhat stabilized by Jokinen’s presence on the ice during the man advantage.
Jussi’s contributions certainly won’t go unnoticed as the Florida Panthers organization and fans greatly appreciate his time donning the colors of the Cats and hope he experiences great success in Edmonton.