On the Waiver Wire: Should the Canucks Put in a Claim on Jussi Jokinen or Kaspars Daugavins?

Jussi Jokinen owns the faceoff circle.

Mike Gillis noted in an interview on the Team 1040 recently that there has been more waiver action this season than we’ve ever seen in years past. Today there are a couple of intriguing names on waivers in Jussi Jokinen and Kaspars Daugavins, and neither of them is a player of the "one-dimensional fourth line enforcer" variety. With the Canucks forward group so depleted by injury that the team has turned to playing Keith Ballard out of position at left-wing, should they hazard aclaim in on either of these two forwards? 

We’ll evaluate on the other side of the jump.

Jussi Jokinen

Let’s start with Jussi Jokinen, since he’s more of a known quantity. Jokinen has a variety of attributes that should make him attractive to Canucks brass: he’s relatively productive on the power-play, he’s dynamite in the shootout, he’s versatile (can play on the wing or at centre), he’s a plus possession player capable of winning matchups against tough competition and he wins face-offs by the bucket full (he’s at 58.2% this season). Sounds like a guy who could help this particular iteration of the Canucks, huh?

On the other hand his offensive production has diminished in each of the past three seasons and he only has ten-points in thirty games this year. In my view that shouldn’t concern the Canucks too much, since it’s mostly percentage based. So far this season Jokinen is shooting at a clip 4% below his career average and his on-ice shooting percentage is unsustainably low as well at 5.32%. So his declining production wouldn’t be a good reason to pass up on Jokinen…

His contract might be, however. Jokinen has a cap-hit of three million dollars for this season – which isn’t a big deal considering that the Canucks can put Manny Malhotra and David Booth on LTIR – and next season too, which is the problem.

The cap-crunch the Canucks are facing this offseason (with 60.4 million committed and a diminishing salary cap) has been overstated somewhat, and they shouldn’t be in too much trouble so long as they use a compliance buyout on a guy like Keith Ballard or David Booth, and can find a taker for Roberto Luongo.

Thats are a lot of ifs though, and the Canucks do have guys like Chris Higgins, Mason Raymond, Maxim Lapierre and Chris Tanev (RFA) on expiring contracts and all due a raise. So were the Canucks to claim Jokinen, it would make it difficult to keep much of the club’s depth in tact a year from now.

From a hockey perspective, it’s pretty clear that Jokinen would help the Canucks significantly this season. From the perspective of managing the salary cap, however, I’m not sure it makes too much sense to put in a claim on him.

Kaspars Daugavins

Kaspars Daugavins is probably the more suitable option for the Canucks, even though Jussi Jokinen is the superior player. The key here is that Daugavins is on a deal worth less than $700,000 at the NHL level, the contract expires after this season, and he’ll be a restricted free-agent when it does. So if you bring him in and it doesn’t work out, oh well, and if it does then you can qualify him and sign him for below market value as a way of offsetting the likely exodus of several depth forwards.

Daugavins has been a plus possession player this season while playing mostly with the likes of Chris Neil and Jim O’Brien in Ottawa. He’s clearly not the sort of play driving forward that his Senators teammates Zack Smith and Erik Condra are, but he’s in the black this season and his WOWY’s don’t suggest that he’s just backpacking on quality linemates. He faces somewhat secondary competition, but he also starts a statistically meaningful majority of his shifts in the defensive end and does well to come out above water. He also appears to have managed to draw penalties at a solid clip over the past couple of seasons.

Daugavins appears to me to be a relatively useful bottom-six forward, and he’s also twenty-four. He doesn’t have Jokinen’s upside, but he also doesn’t come attached to any material commitment for next season which is a huge plus.  Ultimately I think he makes significantly more sense for the Canucks to try and claim off of waivers, though I’d be mildly surprised if he makes it as far as their waiver priority slot.

  • BrudnySeaby

    I wouldn’t mind Kaspars but most fans don’t realize that waivers is a ranking system and because we claimed Sesito already this year we are near the bottom. Lets hope 25 other teams pass in order for this to happen.

    • elvis15

      As Drance already mentioned, us claiming a player previously has no bearing on our position for waiver wire pickups. It always goes by the order of the standings.

      The only exception is if we lost a player to a waiver wire pickup but that same player was later put back on waivers, we’d then get first option to claim him back. For instance, if Washington put Volpatti back on waivers, we’d get first chance to bring him back.

      Based on the current standings, only Detroit and perhaps Nashville would be likely to put in a claim (assuming the teams in the bottom 1/3 of the standings wouldn’t be interested).

  • Fred-65

    I don’t think burdening the Cap with more bottom feeders is the right route. I’d like to think MG is aiming higher than either of these two and needs space to make a deal

  • Fred-65

    Unless you think the canucks are guaranteed to buyout both booth and ballard, couldn’t jokinen just get bought out at the end of this year or next if he causes problems w/r/t the cap?

    claim them both and work it out later. too many good players is a good problem to have

  • BrudnySeaby

    Yes, help from these guys would be nice but the attention of GMMG should really be on landing Ribeiro or someone alike, to centre our 2nd line.

    If Kesler returns to health in time for the play-offs, and to his great performance form, it is a luxury to have him and the added 2C. They can then either play together or one of them can drop down to 3C (effectively giving us 2 2nd lines) that can play against the opponents top lines while still having a scoring chance and hopefully drive play.

    That is what the Canucks need for (play-off) success. Either MGGM works something out with Washington for Ribeiro or he tries to get a similar player back in the Luongo trade (and please not someone like Tyler Bozak!). (It’s also possible those two things get combined into one, where Luongo goes to Washington).

    Anyway, my 2 cents.

    • BrudnySeaby

      We already have two second lines. The lineup at playoff time is Sedin Sedin Burrows, then *blank* Kesler *blank*, then Raymond Schroeder Hansen. Whoever you put with Kesler is the 2nd line, but the third line is essentially 2B – fast, skilled, offensive minded.

      Ribeiro will simply cost too much to acquire in this market and will not be re-signable (UFA wants a long-term deal and will get ~5.5-6 AAV). He is a pure rental for the Canucks and therefore will not be worth what would need to be paid.

      Simply put, acquiring an impact top 6 guy is just not feasible this year. I expect to see a trade for a depth player – a Handzus or Goc type – who can win draws in the defensive end. When Kesler is back he can play with Higgins and Booth or Kassian depending on health.

      • BrudnySeaby

        In my opinion, if you keep Schroeder in the lineup at centre, then Kesler is not “2nd line”, but rather “first checking/tough minutes line”.

        If Kesler is the top checking line, he needs the top defensive wingers with him. That means Hansen, Higgins or Raymond and definately rules out Kassian. Kesler has also shown his scoring drops significantly 5v5 when in this role.

        Now Schroeder has to play with the leftovers and has to be sheltered to some degree. Are you willing to go this route for secodnary scoring is the question.

  • elvis15

    I should add, I wonder if this is in Gillis’ plans to add a center that might be a cap conflict and isn’t a reasonable upgrade over who we already have? He could have plans to keep Lapierre at 3C and bring up Lain for 4th line duties if he continues to play well with the Wolves. Then it’d be Schroeder keeping the 2C spot warm for Kesler until he returns.

  • elvis15

    So…we’re short a player who can play center, win faceoffs, and play tough minutes. I see all this banter about “who will be the 3rd line center if not Kesler?”

    The Canucks have a chance to add exactly the type of player they’d like in Jokinen. There are always all sorts of options available in the summer, especially if Jokinen thrives here. I can’t believe this is a debate, if he’s available, I hope the Canucks take him.

  • elvis15

    We should (try to) take him, especially considering how the trade market is shaping up. Trading Higgins or Raymond for picks may be worth it at this point. Probably won’t resign both of them and we’re not looking like a team that’s going to go far in the playoffs.

    • elvis15

      Because we’re ahead of teams like the wings and kings and closing in on the ducks despite missing a top line centre and a top six winger? This is why we aren’t going far in the playoffs?

      Especially if they are due back around said playoffs?

      Really? It’s time to burn the depth to the ground for picks?