Whether the Hurricanes were buyers or sellers at the deadline, the one thing I did not want to see Jim Rutehrford do was make trades purely for the sake of it. The Hurricanes weren't going to find an answer for their defensive problems this deadline, so there was no point in dealing for another third-pairing guy and they didn't have enough assets to acquire a better player. At the same time, if the Hurricanes chose to be sellers, they don't exactly have a lot of attractable players on the roster right now and the most they would get in a trade were fringe prospects or low/mid-round draft picks. Draft picks in general are never a sure thing and the probability of one turning into an NHL player gets lower as you get into the later rounds, which is why I did not want to see the Hurricanes give away players for that price. Unfortunately, the Canes ended up doing that by sending Jussi Jokinen to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 6th/7th round pick.
Jokinen is currently on pace to have his worst season in the NHL in terms of goals and points but I still believe that he had trade value for other teams, all of which went down the toilet when Rutherford elected to place Jokinen on waivers last week. He ended up clearing without any team putting in a claim. Now Jokinen had absolutely no value and Rutherford would pretty much have to accept any return he could get. Supposedly the reason why no team ended up claiming Jokinen was because he still had a year left on his contract, which will pay him $3 mil. next season. Sure, that looks bad when you see that he has only 11 points in 33 games, but there was a time when Jokinen was worth that kind of money and it was only a year ago.
Stats courtesy of Behind the Net
Jokinen's goal-scoring pace in 2009-10 was clearly an aberration, but he has produced at a pretty solid rate for most of his career with his numbers taking a complete tailspin this year. Carolina's head coach, Kirk Muller tried just about everything to get Jussi going this year. He started the year centering the third line and that didn't work out, which promted Muller to move him back over to right wing on Riley Nash & Jordan Staal's line respectively. Jokinen ended up not producing much, which has made everyone believe that he is washed up, worthless and "not a fit" for Muller's system, but I think he was just having a bad year more than anything else.
While Jokinen's scoring was down, he was shooting the puck a lot more and doing a solid job at driving the play forward despite having weaker linemates for most of the season. Puck luck is something that a lot of hockey fans don't accept, but Jokinen clearly did not have any of it this season. He was shooting at only 9.8%, nearly 3% lower than his career average and the Hurricanes, as a team, were shooting at less than 5% at even strength with him on the ice. His scoring numbers will probably decline as his career goes on, but he is nowhere near as bad as his boxcar numbers suggest right now.
That being said, it was going to be tough to find a suitor for Jokinen because of his contract and low-boxcar stats, which meant that the Canes would have to sell-low regardless. What I don't understand is why the Hurriacnes were so eager to rid themselves of Jokinen a week ago when they placed him on waivers. Players like Blake Comeau and Ryan Clowe (who had a combined total of 4 goals) were traded today for bigger returns, so would it have hurt Carolina to hang onto Jokinen for another week instead of offering him for free on the waiver wire?
By doing that, Rutherford basically sent a message to the entire NHL saying that he doesn't want this player on his team's roster and would accept any turn to get rid of him. No team is going to give up anything more than a conditional pick for a player who was available for free only a week ago, thus giving Rutherford zero leverage in a future deal. Penguins GM took full advantage of this situation by acquiring Jokinen for a conditional 6th/7th round pick AND making the Hurricanes pay the rest of Jokinen's salary next season. In orther words, they essentially got a top-nine player for almost nothing.
Even if the Hurricanes were going to sell and tank the rest of the season, you want to manage your assets well as a GM, which I do not think Rutherford did with Jokinen by waiving him. Even if the Hurricanes wanted to free up space for Tuomo Ruutu, they had enough room on the roster to keep Jokinen on the team for the rest of the year and could have traded him in the summer while eating some of his salary. The return certainly couldn't have been any lower than what they actually got for him today.
I'm not sure if Jokinen will be a fit in Pittsburgh and see more bounces go his way, but I wish him the best. He was a class act during his time in Carolina and will be missed.