Versatile Jokinen hopes to remain with Penguins
Jussi Jokinen sat in his locker at Southpointe on Wednesday, took in his surroundings and offered a smile.
The well-traveled veteran believes he has a found a home.
Maybe even a permanent one.
Jokinen is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while he doesn't know what the future holds, he made it clear he hopes to remain in Pittsburgh.
“You know, I really do like it here,” Jokinen said. “I like everything about this place.”
The Penguins like Jokinen, too.
General manager Ray Shero isn't discussing the free agency situation for this summer, but the front office and coaching staff have been pleased with the Jokinen's contributions.
A versatile forward, Jokinen has fit on the second line with center Evgeni Malkin and right wing James Neal. He also has bolstered the third line in cameo appearances on center Brandon Sutter's unit.
Wherever Jokinen plays, he seems to thrive.
“He's just such a good player,” Sutter said. “He does everything well.”
Jokinen has played for three other teams during his NHL career, and has participated in the 2006 and 2014 Olympics for Finland.
In a relatively weak free agent class this summer, Jokinen could be in demand. He can play all three forward positions, historically ranks among the league's better faceoff and shootout performers and is strong defensively.
Jokinen, 30, has proven to be a mentor for 19-year-old Olli Maatta, who's also from Finland.
Jokinen knows discussions with the Penguins don't figure to begin until after their playoff run concludes. And he's OK with that.
“I just figure that it will take care of itself in the summer,” Jokinen said. “I don't mind if we don't talk until the summer, either. I really don't care. There are a few free agents on this team, so I know they'll be busy making decisions.
“There is a lot they have to handle. So I totally understand that. But I do want to stay here.”
He also understands that being in his current position is a good thing.
Jokinen has landed a spot on a line with two of the NHL's best players, and he's enjoying every minute.
“Obviously, any winger around the league would like to be in the spot that I'm in right now,” he said. “Geno and Nealer are great players. I like it, playing with them. Anybody would like it.”
The city has rubbed off on Jokinen, too.
Besides enjoying his linemates, Jokinen said he has quickly grown an appreciation for playing in hockey-mad Pittsburgh. His three previous teams — Carolina, Dallas and Tampa Bay — were not hockey hotbeds.
“I'm just enjoying my time so much right now,” he said. “It's a first-class organization. They try to win every year, and as player, you want to be a part of that. And then there's the city. It's just a great place. I'm having a lot of fun right now. ”
Jokinen is in the final year of a deal that pays him $3 million per season. Carolina is picking up $900,000 of that annual salary.
The Penguins won't get such financial aid this summer. But Jokinen hopes a deal can be struck.
“This is where I want to be,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Adams not returning to team
- Penguins GM: Team not disciplined enough, buyouts possible, Bennett handled incorrectly
- Johnstown rink wins $150K for upgrades, will host Penguins preseason game
- Starkey: The Penguins’ perpetual question
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’
- Penguins notebook: Crosby to play in worlds for 1st time since 2006
- Crosby, Malkin want to remain in Pittsburgh
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Penguins’ Pouliot learns from rookie season