Mar 27, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jussi Jokinen (36) skates with the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Kings won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Penguins: Jussi Jokinen A Goner?

Jussi Jokinen was outstanding for Pittsburgh last season.

From his prominent shootout prowess to his goal scoring ability on Evgeni Malkin’s second-line, Jokinen removed all doubts that he could still play after being scratched multiple times in the 2013 postseason.

Part of the reason Jokinen was so successful is because he endured a full season with Pittsburgh. Acquired at the trade deadline in ’13, Jokinen hadn’t developed the type of chemistry he displayed this past season. And it showed, because he looked ever so comfortable as Malkin’s wingman.

Now, Jokinen is set to become an unrestricted free agent if the team can’t re-sign him by Jul. 1, and there’s no telling if Pittsburgh can or wants him back.

One would assume the organization would love to have him rejoin their roster for next season, and Jokinen wants to return, but their funds may indicate otherwise.

Here’s what Jokinen said during their locker room clean out after their Game 5 loss – per Sam Kasan of the Pens’ website:

“I really enjoyed my time here. I hope I can be back. But there are a lot of decisions this organization has to make. I’m one of them. We’ll see what the summer brings.”

Jokinen’s stellar year may entail him asking for a substantial amount of money – something Pittsburgh doesn’t have. He’s middle-aged, so he could very well replicate his 2013-14 efforts next season. What am I suggesting? If Jokinen were to take a pay-cut and return on a one-year, two-year deal, I could see him coming back. However, if he demands more years and, of course, more coin, there’s his ticket to another club.

It’s in Pittsburgh best interest to just let him walk. I understand the team already possesses weak wing depth, but Jokinen will ultimately be too expensive. Besides, their top two lines aren’t what the team should be focusing on improving. It’s the secondary scorers they lack. That, and they’ll make a strong push to try and re-sign Matt Niskanen.

However, if Jokinen does re-sign, fans will certainly welcome him with open arms. Let’s just not give him a long contract, because he could wind up being abysmal next season, who knows.

In 81 regular-season games, Jokinen ranked fifth on the team in scoring with 57 points (21G, 36A), and he ranked second for the playoffs with 10 points (7G, 3A). His seven playoff goals led the team.

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