With Jussi Jokinen and Kaspars Daugavins on waivers, Canucks should go claim-happy

As opposed to… clam-happy! Hit it, drag queen Tammie Brown!

The waiver wire is normally the home to fourth liners, career AHLers, and overpriced veterans past their prime, but two players were placed on waivers on Tuesday that are far more useful: Jussi Jokinen and Kaspars Daugavins. Considering the Canucks current injury woes at forward that have necessitated using defenceman Keith Ballard at left wing, Mike Gillis should certainly consider claiming both players.

As is usually the issue with useful players on waivers, it’s likely that one or both will be claimed well before they reach the Canucks. Still, if Gillis has the opportunity, both players would be an immediate fit in the Canucks’ lineup.

Jussi Jokinen is the more talented of the two and would immediately help fix the Canucks’ lack of depth up the middle. Since Jokinen can play at both centre and on the wing, he could fill in as the Canucks’ third line centre until Ryan Kesler returns, at which point he could shift to the wing on either the second or third line.

The Canucks have uncharacteristically struggled in the faceoff circle this season and are currently 28th in the league in faceoff percentage. That will happen when you have your top two faceoff men on Injured Reserve. I bring this up because Jokinen, despite playing most of his career on the wing, is actually a faceoff specialist. He has won 58.2% of his faceoffs this season and was 55.1% last season. Many of these faceoffs have come on the penalty kill, where he averages 1:25 per game.

More importantly, Jokinen is a positive possession player. He’s currently fourth on the Hurricanes in Corsi, indicating that the Hurricanes consistently outshoot their opposition while Jokinen is on the ice. He’s done this while facing reasonably tough competition and starting his shifts equally in the offensive and defensive zones, so his possession rates aren’t the result of sheltered deployment.

Jokinen also has a sizeable helping of offensive skill, scoring 30 goals and 65 points in 2009-10 and tallying 52 and 46 points in the two seasons since. He’s also known as a shootout specialist: he’s 30-for-66 for his career and is tied for third among active skaters in shootout goals.

A third-line centre who can win faceoffs, kill penalties, contribute offensively, and score in the shootout to boot? That sounds like the type of player the Canucks could use. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that other teams higher on the waiver priority list could use him too and have noticed these same qualities. The Phoenix Coyotes, for instance, have a good track record with picking up undervalued players and getting good performances out of them.

So if he’s so useful, why is he on waivers in the first place? There are a couple reasons. First is his contract: Jokinen has a $3 million cap hit through 2014, which isn’t too terrible considering he signed it after scoring 65 and 52 points in his previous two seasons, but the Hurricanes just committed a lot of money to Alexander Semin and likely want to shed some contracts.

That brings me to the second reason: Jokinen isn’t scoring. He has just 10 points this season. Part of that comes down to opportunity, as the Hurricanes brought in Semin and Jordan Staal prior to this season. Jokinen was second on the Hurricanes in scoring last season but Semin, Staal, and a healthy Jeff Skinner have eaten into his ice time.

His on-ice shooting percentage, however, is also the lowest it’s been in six seasons at just 5.32%. That’s well below league average and he’s a likely candidate to see his luck turn around. Now is the time to buy low, essentially.

The only issue for the Canucks, other than the fact that he will get claimed by another team before he reaches them, is that he carries that $3 million cap hit through next season when the salary cap is coming down. With a compliance buyout of one of Keith Ballard or David Booth (and I don’t see Booth getting bought out) and a Roberto Luongo trade, however, that is less of an issue. If they do claim Jokinen, however, it will likely mean losing one of Mason Raymond or Chris Higgins to free agency unless they take a sizeable hometown discount.

In any case, the salary cap shouldn’t be a reason not to claim Jokinen.

Kaspars Daugavins is a simpler case. He’s your basic bottom-six, gritty forward with a small helping of skill. He’s proven he can score at the AHL level and has been a positive possession forward for the Ottawa Senators this season while playing largely a checking line role. His name is also the answer to “How do you pluralize Kaspar Daugavins?”

Most people would be aware of him for his goofy, skills-competition-style, spinorama shootout attempt against the Boston Bruins, but that shouldn’t define him as a player. Daugavins is second among Senators forwards in short-handed ice time per game and plays left wing, where the Canucks have been playing Keith Ballard. While Ballard has been a revelation at forward, it’s still not ideal to have to play him there and the Canucks could use more depth on the left wing heading into the playoffs.

Daugavins is a strong skater, can play with some grit, and moves the puck in the right direction. He’d be a good fit for the Canucks on the third line for now and can move down to the fourth once other skaters get healthy. He’s also on a cheap contract at $635,000 and will be an RFA next season.

So again, why is he on waivers? Likely because Ottawa goaltenders can’t make a save while he’s on the ice. When he’s on the ice, the Senators’ save percentage is just .874 at even-strength, giving him a plus/minus rating of minus-7 and an unsustainably low PDO of 915. This is another case of buying low, with much less risk due to his low cap hit. Unfortunately, other teams are likely interested in buying low on a useful bottom-six winger, so the Canucks will likely never see him.

19 comments

  1. DanD
    March 26, 2013

    It would be amazing to have Jokinen, but like you said, probably unlikely. I wonder if Daugavins would fall that far. I guess we can hope!

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  2. Zach Morris
    March 26, 2013

    I initially fell in love with Jussi Jokinen for his fantastic name, like I did with Roberto Luongo and Johan Hedberg.
    Now I learn he’s actualyl good?

    I will buy a jersey with his name if we pick him up :D

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  3. Warpstone
    March 26, 2013

    I would happily take Jokinen with a view towards letting Higgins go over the offseason. The latter just has not been the same. Higgens’ stint with the Sedins seems to be a last ditch attempt to assess his upside in a top 6 role.

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  4. Brent
    March 26, 2013

    So why don’t the Hurricanes just trade him? Then we could get him. Or do I just not understand the waiver thing.

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  5. Helen
    March 26, 2013

    Waivers..now there’s a subject for @newvanfan to cover cos this new fan is pretty confused by it so I’m sure Andreas would need an explanation too!

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  6. Chinook
    March 26, 2013

    Why do say “In any case, the salary cap shouldn’t be a reason not to claim Jokinen”? Are you ready to keep him over Higgins or Raymond next year, or do you trust that MG can find some other solution?

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    • Origamirock
      March 26, 2013

      Three words: Laurence Motherfucking Gilman

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      • Pukeko
        March 26, 2013

        Haha. Well put Origamirock- if any one can squeeze blood from a stone its L.M.F.G. I need to get that guy to do my taxes.

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    • Chinook
      March 26, 2013

      So PITB, no answer eh? If Jokinen (or Daugavins for that matter) was worth a pinch of c.s. Carolina / Ottawa would have taken a draft pick (any round) on a trade rather than put them on waivers.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        March 26, 2013

        What do Mark Recchi, Todd Marchant, Ilya Bryzgalov, Michael Grabner, and Kyle Wellwood have in common? All waiver pickups. Being on the waiver wire doesn’t not mean you can’t help a team. It just means the team you’re currently on doesn’t think you can help THEM at that moment.

        Now, while it’s *possible* the Hurricanes could have gotten a pick for Daugavins or Jokinen, it must be pretty tough to sell anybody on an item that you’re planning to give away for free if no one buys. Furthermore, there’s a big difference between paying for something and getting it for free. Free!

        In some cases, a team puts a guy on waivers in the hopes of sneaking him down to the minors. In other cases, they do it for the same reason you list something on Craigslist for free: they’re confident someone will take it, so long as they don’t have to pay. And as for putting in a claim, teams do it for the same reason you claim free stuff on Craigslist. You’re cheap and you can use it.

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        • Chinook
          March 27, 2013

          bah! But a thumbs up for beautiful bafflegab:
          “Being on the waiver wire doesn’t not mean you can’t help a team”

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  7. JDM
    March 26, 2013

    he carries that $3 million cap hit through next season when the salary cap is coming down. With a compliance buyout of one of Keith Ballard or David Booth (and I don’t see Booth getting bought out) and a Roberto Luongo trade, however, that is less of an issue.

    The foregoing is wrong. There is still an issue. Please observe the following lineup chart.

    Sedin 6.1 Sedin 6.1 Burrows 4.5
    Booth 4.25 Kes 5.0 Higgins 2.0
    Raymond 2.5 Schroeder 2 Hansen 1.35
    Pinnozotto 1.0 Lapierre 1.2 Weise 1.0
    Ebbett 650

    Edler 5.0 Garrison 4.6
    Hamhuis 4.5 Bieksa 4.6
    Tanev 2.75 Alberts 800
    Barker 700

    Schneider 4
    Backup 1

    That is a pretty damned conservative estimate of the cap hits next year, would require that we sign a bunch of guys for pretty cheap (Raymond, Schroeder, Tanev, Alberts, Barker, PZ, Weise and Higgins) and that is 64.6M – aka, half a million over the cap. For any player on that list where you can shave off a couple hundred thousand in AAV, you’re probably going to end up giving it back somewhere else.

    If you claim Jokinen, you’ve essentially dropped Lapierre at 1.2 in exchange for 3.0 in Jokinen – another 1.8M in cap hit. You’re well over 2M over the cap. At the very least, this probably requires letting Mason Raymond walk.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 26, 2013

      I’m curious to know what you think this sentence in my post meant: “If they do claim Jokinen, however, it will likely mean losing one of Mason Raymond or Chris Higgins to free agency unless they take a sizeable hometown discount.”

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    • Harrison Mooney
      March 26, 2013

      Absolutely no way the Canucks retain all of Higgins, Lapierre, Raymond, Alberts, Ebbett and Barker. And $2M for Schroeder? That’s not happening either.

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      • Brent
        March 26, 2013

        What I don’t get is (well OK there is lots I don’t get but….) with the cap going down, why do the owners keep signing players for more money. It is like they just don’t get that they are the authors of their own misfortune. And why is it going down? You would assume the owners AND the players would want it higher. Players get more money and owners keep their best players.

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      • ikillchicken
        March 26, 2013

        Wait, you aren’t saying Schroeder is worth more are you? That seems to be the implication given the context but I find that hard to believe. At this point he has a grand total of 9 NHL points. Even if he continues to play well for the rest of the season he is hardly gonna command more than a moderate increase on his current salary, especially since he’s an RFA.

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        • Harrison Mooney
          March 26, 2013

          No, no, no. He’s worth less. He won’t get $2 million.

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  8. nanodummy
    March 26, 2013

    Ta dah… and still 500k to dole out to mayray/schro/tanev/sign lapierre instead of ebbet…

    FORWARDS
    Daniel Sedin ($6.100m) / Henrik Sedin ($6.100m) / Alexandre Burrows ($4.500m)
    David Booth ($4.250m) / Ryan Kesler ($5.000m) / Jussi Jokinen ($3.000m)
    Mason Raymond ($2.700m) / Jordan Schroeder ($1.200m) / Jannik Hansen ($1.350m)
    Nicklas Jensen ($0.894m)/Andrew Ebbett ($0.600m) / Zack Kassian ($0.870m)
    Dale Weise ($0.900m)

    DEFENSEMEN
    Dan Hamhuis ($4.500m) / Kevin Bieksa ($4.600m)
    Alexander Edler ($5.000m) / Chris Tanev ($1.500m)
    Jason Garrison ($4.600m) / Kevin Connauton ($0.688m)
    Cam Barker ($0.650m)

    GOALTENDERS
    Cory Schneider ($4.000m)
    Eddie Lack ($0.750m)

    CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
    (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion)
    SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $63,751,667; BONUSES: $0
    CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $548,333

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  9. shoes
    March 27, 2013

    The cap going down is going to effect all of the top teams in the same manner, hopefully revenues indicate that it won’t drop as far as they are predicting.

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