Jussi Jokinen records hat trick against former team, which is still paying him

Justin K. Aller

Jussi Jokinen recorded a hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes are still paying a part of his salary.

The Pittsburgh Penguins tried to go all in at last year's trade deadline, acquiring Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen in an effort to load up for a run at the Stanley Cup.

General manager Ray Shero was showered with praise for acquiring the first three players on that list, while Jokinen was largely viewed as an afterthought, and a player the Penguins simply acquired to fill in while Sidney Crosby was injured. (Which is probably somewhat true -- if Crosby doesn't suffer a broken jaw that move probably never happens)

One year later, Jokinen is not only the last one still remaining on the roster, he's also proven to be the most useful player they acquired in their late-season spending spree.

He paid off in a big way on Tuesday night, recording a hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-2 win.

The Hurricanes, of course, are the team that traded Jokinen to the Penguins for a late-round draft pick, and picked up $900,000 of his salary cap hit for the 2013-14 season in the process.

That's right, Jokinen was still on the Hurricanes' payroll and salary cap as he was filling the net against them on Tuesday night.

There are so many stunning things about this.

  • The Hurricanes sold low on Jokinen, a talented and productive player who was having a down year, and allowed him to get away for such a low return
  • Just prior to the trade the Hurricanes had placed Jokinen on waivers and every single team in the NHL allowed him to go through unclaimed.
  • The Penguins acquired a solid, two-way player who has a 30-goal season under his belt at the NHL level and usually scores at a 50-point pace per 82 games played, and it slid so laughably far under the radar.

When it comes to the Iginla, Morrow, and Murray trades, the Penguins have to be disappointed with the way they turned out, especially as they were swept in the Eastern Conference Final.

But the Jokinen trade is looking like a steal, especially as he's now scored 10 goals in the 13 regular season games he's played with the team. No, Jokinen isn't going to continue scoring on such a ridiculously high percentage of his shots, but even if regresses back to his previous level of production it's still more than worth it for the Penguins.

He opened the season skating on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal (before he was injured) and as long as he stays on that line (and stays healthy) he could be on the way to a big season.

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