Easy call for Keenan
TSN's Bob McKenzie summed up the dilemma Florida Panthers GM Mike Keenan has with Olli Jokinen yesterday, but I disagree with the venerable hockey master:
It's a good point, but only if the Panthers have even a quasi-realistic shot at the playoffs. In reality, they don't have a hope.
Jokinen has already turned down a four-year, $16-million offer because he knows there's a pretty good chance at least one NHL team this summer will pay him around $5 million a year. Keenan doesn't even dispute that logic.So rather than lose him for nothing in the summer, Keenan would like to trade him now as a rental player and get a package of draft picks and maybe even a prospect. But as his team battles for a playoff spot, what kind of message does that send to the Panther players and the fans?
Not a good one.
Currently 10 points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, the Panthers have just 54 points in 60 games played. To hit the magic 95-point plateau — which is where they'd have to be to make the playoffs — Florida would have to go 20-1-1 over their final 22 games.
That's just plain ridiculous.
Sure, the earlier trade deadline makes it tougher for teams close to playoff spots as they grapple with whether they should dump pending unrestricted free agents. This puts teams like the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks in a tough spot — not the Panthers.
To address what McKenzie's saying, what kind of a message does it send to players, fans and team management if Keenan let's Jokinen walk for nothing because he's holding on for a completely unrealistic goal?
Not a good one.
My prediction? Jokinen joins the Ottawa Senators in exchange for their first-round pick in the 2006 entry draft.