NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators have signed veteran center Olli Jokinen in their latest attempt to boost an offense that has lacked punch in recent seasons.
Jokinen, 35, had 18 goals and 25 assists in 82 games this season for the Winnipeg Jets. He signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.
"Olli Jokinen is a proven veteran center who will provide us with size, leadership and offensive ability in the tough Central Division and Western Conference," Predators general manager David Poile said Wednesday in a team release announcing the move.
The Predators ranked 19th in the league with 2.61 goals per game last season and missed the playoffs for a second straight year. After the season, the Predators fired Barry Trotz — the only coach in franchise history - and replaced him with Peter Laviolette.
Laviolette and Poile have discussed the Predators' hopes of improving the team's offense. The Predators' offseason moves have reflected that desire.
The Predators acquired forward James Neal in a Friday trade that sent forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Neal had 27 goals and 34 assists in 59 games this season, which marked the sixth straight year he scored at least 20 goals.
Now they've added a veteran presence in Jokinen, who has 317 goals and 423 assists in 1,169 career regular-season games that have taken him all over the NHL. Jokinen had two stints with Calgary and also played with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes and New York Rangers before coming to Winnipeg in 2012.
"He provides our coaching staff with more depth and options at the forward position, and coach Laviolette believes he is a good fit for our style of play," Poile said.
Jokinen, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound center, has scored at least 20 goals in seven seasons and has reached the 30-goal mark four times. Jokinen was an NHL All-Star in 2003, and he has been a team captain or alternate captain in eight of his last 11 seasons.