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Pens Add Versatile Jokinen for Depth

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

They say you can never have too many good players on your roster.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero certainly seems to agree.

After Shero acquired three players in a four-day span (Brenden Morrow, Dallas; Douglas Murray, San Jose; Jarome Iginla, Calgary), it was hard to imagine any more moves to come.

Pens acquire Jussi Jokinen from Carolina (Getty Images)

However, as the NHL’s 3 p.m. trade deadline approached Shero pulled the trigger on one final roster trade. Pittsburgh acquired veteran center Jussi Jokinen from Carolina in exchange for a conditional sixth- or seventh-round pick in 2013.

"I'm really excited," Jokinen said. "I've heard nothing but great things about the organization. I want to thank Ray Shero for making me a part of the Penguins family. I will do everything I can help us win the Stanley Cup."

Jokinen 30, is a good depth addition for the Penguins, who are now overflowing with capable forwards. He’s a versatile player that can fit in any role, on any line and at any forward position.

“His versatility is really important to us,” Shero said. “Jokinen is a proven NHL player. He’s a very smart player, good stick. He can play with good players, but also can move around the lineup, left wing, right wing and center.”

"My biggest (strength) has always been being versatile," Jokinen said. "I will play any forward position, offensive role, defensive role, first line, fourth line, anything between. I will play wherever Dan (Bylsma) thinks gives the team the best chance to win."

Jokinen will start off playing center with the Penguins, although the line combinations will need to be determined by the head coach. Dan Bylsma said his initial thought is for Jokinen to play in Sidney Crosby's old spot between Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

Jokinen, who had a portion of his salary paid for by Carolina as part of the trade agreement, is expected to fly to Pittsburgh Thursday morning and is may make it in time for the team’s 11 a.m. practice at CONSOL Energy Center.

The Penguins decided to add some depth after losing Crosby, who is out indefinitely with a broken jaw. Tyler Kennedy was moved from wing to play center in Crosby’s absence. That was a fine short-term solution, but the team wanted more security for the long-term.

“With ‘Sid’ being out we didn’t want to take any chances with our depth,” Shero said. “(The trade) gives us versatility and depth with Sid out. When Sid comes back it’s another option for the coach. You never know a few weeks down the line how your lineup will look like with injuries or whatever. Depth is important this time of year.

Tyler Kennedy has been playing good hockey for us lately. We’ve had ‘TK’ in the middle in the past for short-term, but he’s better suited back on the wing.”

Perhaps his best attribute and where he may help the Penguins the most on the ice is in the faceoff dot. For his career, the Jokinen has won 53.8 percent of his draws, including an eye-popping 59.4 percent on the current season.

Jokinen had a monster season in 2009-10 when he tallied 30 goals, 35 assists and 65 points in 81 games. While his goal numbers have dropped off since that season (his assist numbers have remained in the 30s), he still has a scorer’s skillset.

“He’s a very good faceoff guy, can kill penalties, play the power play,” Shero said. “It just adds that skill. He’s good on the halfwall with the puck. He’s got the hockey sense to play with good players.”

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