When the Los Angeles Kings selected Kuopio, Finland native Olli Jokinen third overall in 1997, he was billed as a skilled big body who played a North American-style game.
“He has a nasty, agitating side and plays a strong two-way game,” said a scout in THN’s 1997 Draft Preview Issue.
Jokinen was already playing in Finland’s SM-liiga as an 18-year-old during his draft year. He was the league’s rookie of the year, scoring 14 goals and 41 points in 50 games with HIFK Helsinki. He also scored five goals in six World Junior Championship games and four goals and six points in eight World Championship games.
“Every time he steps up a level, he continues to be a force,” the scout said.
THN ranked Jokinen as the fourth-best draft-eligible player in ’97 behind Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Roberto Luongo; he went third after Thornton and Marleau, one spot ahead of Luongo.
Since then, Jokinen has been traded five times: thrice on draft day, once at the deadline and just this past Tuesday.
This week we take a look at the top 10 players who have been moved for Olli Jokinen. The order is based on where they were in their careers at the time of the trade. And don’t forget Calgary traded its 2010 first-rounder to Phoenix. Who knows how high a pick that could be in June; we may have to add another name to the list soon.
10. Ales Kotalik, to Calgary from the Rangers – Feb. 2, 2010
Paying a winger $3 million to score 12 goals and 34 points (which is what Kotalik is on pace for) is pretty ridiculous; not to mention he’s staring down a minus-29 if things keep going as they have thus far this season. This one was a real head-scratcher.
9. Nick Boynton, to Florida from Phoenix – June 20, 2008
Boynton was part of Phoenix’s ‘Killer B’ defense pair when he was moved to Miami. He was a junior scorer who was the Memorial Cup MVP in 1999 and, ironically, was originally drafted ninth overall the same year as Jokinen. He is now a bruising blueliner whose career looks to be on the downside, but is still more useful than the maddening Kotalik.
8. Brandon Prust, to Phoenix from Calgary – March 4, 2009
The left winger fills a role (agitator) at a reasonable rate ($500,000), which is more than can be said of Jokinen these days (third-line numbers – 11-24-35 in 57 games – at top-line money – $5.25 million). Prust was later reacquired by the Flames and then sent to the Rangers with Jokinen.
7. Oleg Kvasha, to the Islanders from Florida – June 24, 2000
The talented, but ever underwhelming left winger was the 65th pick in 1996 – the year before Jokinen was drafted – and scored 51 goals and 135 points in the four seasons after the trade for the Islanders. 6. Christopher Higgins, to Calgary from the NY Rangers – Feb. 2, 2010
The left winger isn’t exactly having a banner season, but he gets a pass because he’s been with the offensively challenged Rangers. Higgins is a three-time 20-goal scorer known also as a penalty-killer. The jury is still out on him, but he’s no stiff.5. Keith Ballard, to Florida from Phoenix – June 20, 2008
The better of the ‘Killer B’ blueliners, Ballard has 10 goals and 51 points since being the centerpiece of the Jokinen trade and was a more-than-respectable plus-14 on a non-playoff team last season, his first with Florida. 4. Matthew Lombardi, to Phoenix from Calgary – March 4, 2009
The speedy center is on pace for a career season – currently with the same number of points as Jokinen – in his first full season since being traded for the big Finn. Lombardi has become a big piece of a surprising Phoenix team this season.3. Mark Parrish, to the Islanders from Florida – June 24, 2000
If Kvasha was the ‘future’ in this deal for New York, Parrish was the ‘now.’ The right winger went on to score 23-plus goals four times for the Islanders (118 total) before again moving on. 2. Bryan Smolinski, to Los Angeles from the Islanders – June 19, 1999
The well-traveled center played for eight teams in 15 seasons. The first two seasons with the Kings after being moved for Jokinen were two of his best, scoring a total of 47 goals and 115 points.1. Ziggy Palffy, to Los Angeles from the NY Islanders – June 19, 1999
The nifty right winger is still around, in Europe, anyway (he’ll be at the Olympics playing for Slovakia), and was already a three-time 40-goal scorer when he was the centerpiece of the first trade Jokinen was involved in. He went on to score 150 goals and 340 points in 311 games for Los Angeles.The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com. If you enjoy this feature, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine for the exclusive countdown, Starting From 5, and other great features from the world of hockey.