Jussi Jokinen has come a long way from being the shootout specialist he was for the Dallas Stars 10 years ago. The journeyman forward is now in his second season with the surprisingly successful Panthers and, along with Jonathan Huberdeau, Jaromir Jagr and Vincent Trocheck, is one of the big fantasy relevant forwards from the ranks of Florida’s roster.
Being perhaps the third- or fourth-best forward on the Panthers probably sounded like the description for an irrelevant fantasy hockey asset at the beginning of the season, but halfway through February there’s no denying that Jokinen should be owned in almost every league.
In Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues, Jokinen is 42 percent owned despite being eligible to play all three forward positions, which makes him tremendously valuable for getting the most out of your roster. In CBS leagues, he is designated as a left winger and is also under 50 percent owned. In ESPN leagues, Jokinen is categorized as a left winger, but is more than 80 percent owned.
It turns out that Jokinen, once known as a shootout specialist, does a little bit of everything and that all adds up to him having a surprising amount of fantasy value.
The Finnish forward has been accumulating assists the way that mountain peaks gather snow while playing primarily with Smith and Trocheck. Through 55 games this season, Jokinen is just nine assists behind his 82-game total last season.
On top of a knack for picking up helpers playing in the Panthers’ top six, which has helped to keep him well in the green in the plus/minus category, Jokinen has also been getting some power play time with special players like Jagr and Aaron Ekblad. Although he is not a mainstay on the top power play unit in Florida, the winger has nine points on the man advantage to go along with 29 even-strength points.
In standard scoring categories, Jokinen does a little bit of everything without being among the elite in any single category. What stands out about his numbers this season is just how much better they are than they were last season at this time.
Jokinen has already scored three more goals, matched his penalty-minute total and is on pace to crush his shot total from 2014-15 despite being 32 and playing for a team no one expected anything from in 2015-16. Being a jack-of-all-trades in standard scoring categories has made Jokinen a top-100 fantasy hockey player. And the Finn is heating up.
On draft day, according to fantasypros.com, Jokinen was taken as the 349th average pick across the three major fantasy hockey hosts. To say that he has crushed the understandably modest expectations for his fantasy value would be an understatement. Although his offense does appear to come in fits and bursts, it’s hard to ignore 38 points either at the notoriously thin position of left wing or, in Yahoo! leagues, for a forward that can be plugged into any forward position.
Joe McDonald from ESPN is convinced that the Panthers will be buyers come deadline day because of how weak the competition in the Atlantic Division is. What impact that will have on Jokinen’s fantasy value in the near future is hard to say, but there is potential for Jokinen to end up with a better right winger than Smith or even a new hockey sweater, or both.
No matter what deadline day brings for the Panthers and Jokinen, the chances are solid that he will remain one of the unsung heroes of the 2015-16 fantasy season with his balanced and completely unexpected value. Having a player that can do a little bit of everything without being fantastic at any one thing has plenty of worth.