Jussi Jokinen has brought something special to the Kings
Even for a nomadic veteran such as Jussi Jokinen, the past five months have been more eventful than he would have liked.
The Florida Panthers bought out his contract on June 30 with one year remaining. A week later, he signed with Edmonton, and that ended in mid-November when the Oilers traded him to the Kings. Understandably, Jokinen wasn’t pumped up when reminded about facing another old team, the Carolina Hurricanes, on Saturday.
“I’ve got so many old teams now,” Jokinen said.
His latest stop appears to be on firmer ground, judging by how Jokinen has fit in as a versatile forward in 12 games with the Kings. He’s formed a fourth line with Torrey Mitchell and Jonny Brodzinski that has utilized the faceoff and veteran savvy of Jokinen and Mitchell, combined with the energy of Brodzinski.
“You can trust those guys,” coach John Stevens said. “They can play against top lines and they can be really responsible against top lines and it really allows us to get a four-line rotation and distribute the minutes.”
The knock on Jokinen in Edmonton was a lack of speed. He had one point in 14 games with the Oilers before he came to the Kings for Michael Cammalleri.
But Jokinen and his line’s play haven’t left room for others, and it’s partly why spare forward Nic Dowd was traded Thursday to the Vancouver Canucks. Brodzinski is 21 games into his NHL career and he’s using Jokinen and Mitchell as mentors.
“They’re both very smart players,” Brodzinski said. “I can definitely learn a lot from those guys. I think we’ve definitely built up a lot of chemistry here these past couple of games — sustaining a lot more pressure in the offensive zone. I think we’re getting some chances too. I think one of these games, it’s going to click all at once and we’re going to get a couple [goals].”
At this point Jokinen, 34, will settle for regularity. His wife and two children stayed in Florida, where the whirlwind began with what he called a “kind of surprising” buyout, just before free agency opened.
Jokinen said playing against Florida and Edmonton means more to him than Carolina, where he spent 4½ seasons. But his 6-year-old daughter, Sandra, was born there “so it will always be a special place,” Jokinen said.
Carolina was in the news this week with an ownership change and an assurance that the franchise won’t move. Staying put holds an appeal for Jokinen as well.
“Every day goes by, you feel more comfortable,” he said. “The best thing to be more involved in the group is winning, and we’ve been able to win a lot, so that brings the group together.”
KINGS UP NEXT
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 790
Update: Former Kings forward Justin Williams returned for a second stint with Carolina and is third in scoring (19 points) on the Hurricanes. … Goaltender Cam Ward is one win short of 300 for his career. ... The Kings signed goalie Cole Kehler to a three-year entry-level contract. … Defenseman Jordan Subban, acquired in the Dowd deal, was assigned to the Ontario Reign.
Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @curtiszupke
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