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Big contract? You must be Jokinen

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Olli Jokinen’s declining production could make it tough for him to find any takers in the NHL’s unrestricted free agent market.

Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail suggested Russia could be Jokinen’s next stop after bouncing from Florida to Phoenix to Calgary to New York over the past couple of seasons.

A four-time 30-plus goal-scorer during his years with the Panthers, Jokinen’s production has steadily declined from his 91-point performance of 2006-07, dropping to 71 points in ‘07-08, 57 points split between Phoenix and Calgary in ’08-’09, to 50 points this season split between the Flames and Rangers.

His rumored reputation as a dressing room cancer – whether true or not – has dogged him in recent years and won’t help his market value.

Given the dearth of talented scoring forwards available this summer, Jokinen could probably still land with an NHL team desperate for scoring, but he’ll likely have to accept a one-year contract for considerably less than the $5.25 million per season he earned on his last deal.

• The St. Louis Blues head into the off-season with $29 million in available cap space to invest in next season’s roster, but don’t expect them to spend it all on expensive free agent help this summer.

Team president John Davidson told the St. Louis media his team would continue building from within, pointing out his club has several key players – notably goaltender Chris Mason, defenseman Erik Johnson and forward David Perron – to re-sign.

Of those, Mason may be the most critical as he’s an unrestricted free agent in July and would be an affordable alternative for rival teams in need of goaltending depth.

Mason expressed a willingness to return and it’s believed his salary demands are reasonable (rumored in the $4.5 million per season range), so it’s quite possible a deal can be struck with the Blues before July.

Veteran forward Paul Kariya is also a UFA in July and, like Mason, is willing to return. But he’d have to accept a significant pay cut – perhaps a one-year contract for half of the $6 million he earned last season – for that to happen.

Even then there’s no guarantee the Blues would want Kariya back.

• In the latest rumors out of Leafs Nation, it appears Tomas Kaberle isn’t the only current member of Toronto who could be dealt in the off-season.

Reports in the Toronto Starand Globe and Mail last week claimed smallish center Mikhail Grabovski could also find himself on the trading block, as his one-dimensional style apparently isn’t a good fit on the rebuilding Leafs.

Grabovski, 26, had 35 points in 59 games this season and has two more years remaining on his current contract paying him $2.9 million per season.

That might be one re-signing GM Brian Burke wishes he hadn’t made. Still, it probably won’t be too difficult to find a club in need of second-line scoring willing to take Grabovski off Burke’s hands for a draft pick or prospect.

Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website,, and is a contributing writer for and Eishockey Magazine.


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