Alex Steen and Jussi Jokinen have burst onto the fantasy scene in a big way. How long can they keep it up? It says here that they will almost certainly be underrated this coming summer for two reasons. First, their point total for the season will be low, thanks to a lackluster first three months. Second, they are breaking out a year later than usual – in their fifth season. So poolies have spent 2008-09, as well as the start of this campaign, souring on them to the point of writing them off.
But at the age of 26, both Steen and Jokinen are just now entering their prime and each needed about 60 or 70 games with their new team to find their role.
In the case of Steen, one would assume that the coaching change on January 2 (from Andy Murray to Davis Payne) is the reason for the sudden surge. But he actually had 10 points in seven games prior to the firing. Overall, his current production is 35 points in his last 37 contests (heading into Saturday), with 13 of those coming on the power play. Steen was never a potential 80-point player, but as a prospect he certainly looked as though he could be a 70- or 75-point guy. This is the first time we’re actually seeing it. Next season look for production in the low-60’s, with upside, as he contributes on the second line of a St. Louis team who will undoubtedly have a better offense.
As for Jokinen, he seemed to take his snubbing from the Finnish Olympic team as a slap in the face. Today only one Finnish player, Mikko Koivu, boasts more points than Jokinen’s 56. His points have been a little more spread out than Steen’s, which speaks to better consistency. However, his pace to start the year (15 points in 26 games) is still slower than his pace since (41 points in 44 games). The outlook on Jokinen as a prospect was much like the outlook on Steen. That is to say, 80 would be out of reach but 70 seemed very achievable.
Because Jokinen will likely finish with somewhere around 65 points, he won’t be as far under the radar as Steen will be, but nonetheless as a result of his historical production poolies will pencil him in for 60 points. I think he will at the very least match the 65 of this season and could surprise with a number like 72. His chemistry with Eric Staal (47 of Jokinen’s points have come with Staal also on the ice) will see to that.
They have arrived. Believe it. And take advantage of the owners who don’t.