Hockey’s Hurricanes Can Ill Afford Extended Loss of Jokinen

by on July 31st, 2010
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It’s being reported that the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes are going to be without their second-leading scorer for a while.

Forward Jussi Jokinen, who scored 30 goals two years ago and is currently behind only sophomore star Jeff Skinner in overall production with three goals and six assists through 12 games, is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a leg injury suffered November 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s still early in the season but it’s tough to argue that the Hurricanes can afford to lose a player with his ability in the offensive zone. If he is out any longer than the suggested 3-4 weeks it would be a major blow to a team that is currently ranked 8th in the Eastern Conference with 32 goals scored in 12 games.

According to Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford, “It didn’t look good and it isn’t good. We’ll know more after Jussi sees the doctor again today.” Rutherford also said that while the timetable for return could be adjusted, it would not be “less time.”

In addition to productive minutes lost in the usual rotation, Jokinen will be missed on special teams units, where he has served as a two-way forward on power play and penalty kill lines this year.

Fourth line center Tim Brent took over Jokinen’s spot during the third period of the Tampa Bay game but is reporting that Brandon Sutter is the likely replacement on the second unit for any extended absence.

Drayson Bowman has been recalled from AHL Charlotte to take Jokinen’s place on the roster but his career line – two goals in 32 NHL games – does not inspire.

Sutter, the 11th overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, scored 21 goals in 72 games two years ago but his production dipped to 14 goals last season in 82 games played. That’s not the kind of output you need to replace a player showing signs of returning to 30-goal territory.

Unless Sutter can return to his ’09-10 level of play or Jokinen’s injury is not as bad as feared, it looks like the ‘Canes are headed for the cellar of the Southeast Division.

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