Penguins Notebook: Jokinen deal adds depth at forward

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NEW YORK -- If Sidney Crosby were healthy, there's little chance Jussi Jokinen would be on the Penguins' payroll today.

But it turns out that Jokinen, acquired from Carolina Wednesday for a conditional draft choice, won't just be taking Crosby's place on the roster. He will be moving into Crosby's spot on the No. 1 line, between Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

Which doesn't mean Jokinen sees himself trying to fill the entire void created when Crosby was forced out by a broken jaw.

"I don't think I can try to be a player like Sidney Crosby," he said. "There's only one Sidney Crosby in the world."

Jokinen, however, has no problem with temporarily moving into Crosby's spot.

"Obviously, [Kunitz and Dupuis] are two pretty good hockey players," he said.

Putting Jokinen, who is scheduled to join the team today, in the middle will allow the Penguins to shift Tyler Kennedy back to right wing, a position for which general manager Ray Shero believes he is "better suited."

Jokinen, who turned 30 Monday, put up 30 goals and 35 assists in 2009-10, but has managed just six goals and five assists in 33 games this season.

The Hurricanes put him on waivers last week, but he went unclaimed, at least in part because of his $3 million salary-cap hit, which runs through next season.

Carolina agreed to pick up a portion of his salary for what remains of this season and all 2013-14, although neither team would divulge precisely how much. The Hurricanes couldn't have done that if the Penguins, or any other club, had claimed him on waivers.

"The price to get him is worth it," Shero said.

Actually, the Penguins won't pay any price at all if they don't have serious success this spring.

They won't have to give Carolina anything unless they reach the Stanley Cup final and Jokinen appears in at least 25 percent of their playoff games, in which case the Hurricanes would get a seventh-round draft pick. That choice will be upgraded to a sixth-rounder if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup and Jokinen appears in at least half of their postseason games.

The Penguins initially inquired about Jokinen several weeks ago with his ability to work in any forward position the primary attraction.

"He's a versatile guy," Shero said. "Depth is important at this point."

Coach Dan Bylsma said that when Crosby comes back, "you could see [Jokinen] being a guy playing on a fourth line and fill[ing] specific roles on your team, be it faceoffs, be it on the power play. A faceoff guy on the fourth line, as well.

"There are various roles he could fill at that point in time where you get everybody healthy. He's not just a guy who's here for one specific thing, then out of the lineup."

Jokinen played with Brandon Sutter in Carolina and Brenden Morrow in Dallas, so he won't be walking into a locker room full of strangers.

Not that fitting in figures to be much of an issue, anyway.

"He's pretty quiet, for the most part, but a great guy," Sutter said. "He gets along with everyone. No concern there."

Facing a different lineup

The New York Rangers team the Penguins faced at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night was a lot different than it would have been 24 hours earlier.

New York acquired rugged forward Ryane Clowe from San Jose Tuesday night, then dealt winger Marian Gaborik to Columbus shortly before the trade deadline Wednesday afternoon.

Both moves might have seemed a bit perplexing, given that the Rangers entered the game averaging a league-low 2.26 goals per game and that Clowe did not have a goal in 28 games with the Sharks this season and Gaborik was one of New York's few big-time offensive talents.

Gaborik's game did not mesh with coach John Tortorella's style, however, and New York was looking to add the rugged edge Clowe can provide. In addition to Clowe, forward Derick Brassard, and defenseman John Moore, both acquired in the Gaborik deal, were in the lineup.

"They're changing pitchers on the fly here on you," Bylsma said a few hours before the game. "At our meeting this morning, in terms of what to be ready for, a good portion was about Gaborik."

Tip-ins

Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton missed the game because of illness. ... The Penguins and Rangers are involved in a relatively rare home-and-home series, with the rematch scheduled Friday night at Consol Energy Center. ... The Penguins traded minor league goaltender Patrick Killeen to Columbus for considerations.

The New Guy

Season and career statistics for newly acquired Jussi Jokinen, a 30-year-old left winger acquired from Carolina:

Category ... 2013 ... Career

Games ... 33 ... 569

Goals ... 6 ... 121

Points ... 11 ... 346

Plus/minus ... --8 ... --11

mobilehome - penguins

Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter: @MolinariPG.


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