Olli Jokinen makes his Leaf debut tonight hoping it’s his first and fifth-last game in Toronto.
The Leafs and Jokinen both will be pulling for the same thing, which is that he returns to his natural center ice position and convinces some GM tout there that he could be of some use to a team in the playoff mix down the stretch as a veteran depth player. From there, the Leafs might be able to grab a late conditional pick that’s dependent on playoff results. It would be nice to get him out of the way of Holland and Carrick and get those two more minutes in the final 25 games.
If not, Jokinen will be a veteran placeholder while the Leafs play out the string, and hopefully won’t have too big of a surge down the stretch. We aren’t hoping he fails, but we’re also trying to avoid Boyd Devereaux-versus-Ottawa-in-April-2009 type nights, if we can.
It looks like Sam Carrick and Brandon Kozun are going to get some looks down the stretch, both possibly on the fourth line tonight, and Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner are going to get heaps of all-situations minutes, particularly until Dion Phaneuf returns from injury. There should be at least some evaluative merit to these final games, as young players get more opportunity, particularly after the deadline when presumably more veteran bodies are moved out.
Florida Panthers Projected Lines
Jussi Jokinen – Nick Bjugstad – Jimmy Hayes
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Brad Boyes
Tomas Fleischmann – Dave Bolland – Scottie Upshall
Tomas Kopecky – Derek MacKenzie – Shawn Thornton
Brian Campbell – Aaron Ekblad
Shane O’Brien – Erik Gudbranson
Steven Kampfer – Alex Petrovic
Scratched: Sean Bergenheim
Suspended: Dmitry Kulikov
Injured: Willie Mitchell (upper body), Brandon Pirri (upper body)
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lines
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Daniel Winnik – Nazem Kadri – Richard Panik
Leo Komarov – Olli Jokinen – David Clarkson
David Booth – Peter Holland – Brandon Kozun
Morgan Rielly – Roman Polak
Jake Gardiner – Korbinian Holzer
Petter Granberg – Stephane Robidas
Injured: Dion Phaneuf (hand), Trevor Smith (upper body), Joffrey Lupul (upper body)
Scratched: Sam Carrick
Status report: Mitchell will miss his seventh straight game and his second with an upper-body injury. Mitchell was a healthy scratch for five games before being the injury but Gallant said he is day-to-day and close to returning … Bergenheim, a healthy scratch the past two games, will be a game-time decision … Maple Leafs interim coach Peter Horachek said Brandon Kozun will dress … The Maple Leafs called up center Sam Carrick from Toronto of the American Hockey League. (NHL.com)
Who’s hot: Bjugstad has three goals in his past four games … Rielly has three goals in his past four games for the Maple Leafs. (NHL.com)