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Jyrki Jokipakka Shouldn't Play another Game as a Flame

The Flames cut their losses with Grossmann. They need to do the same with Jokipakka.

For the good of the roster, the Flames need to rid themselves of Jokipakka
For the good of the roster, the Flames need to rid themselves of Jokipakka
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Nicklas Grossmann saga ended with a whimper when the team placed him on waivers with the intent to terminate his contract.  Nobody claimed him (which wasn't surprising) and a brief but painful period where he seemed to be a thorn in the Flames side came to a close.  This is certainly a positive for the organization and for fans who were tired of watching his horrible performances.

There was some exuberance and fans assumed that Jyrki Jokipakka would replace him on the left hand side of Dougie Hamilton.  That didn't last as Dennis Wideman quickly wound up taking Jokipakka's spot in the lineup.  Jokipakka's benching is very much warranted.  While Jokipakka is certainly better than Grossmann, that's something akin to saying he's better than a warm body on the bench.  There's some sentiment that he somehow has enough ceiling to grow into a serviceable defenseman or that he's already suited to be the sixth defenseman, but those sentiments are patently false.

Jokipakka's performance in the league has been completely unserviceable.  He's arguably the team's worse defenseman right now and he's dragged down the performance of much-needed performers on the team.  There are other solutions both within and outside of the organization and they desperately need to take advantage of them as his mere presence on the roster prevents the Flames from icing an optimal lineup.  The team should consider trading him or waiving him with the intention of sending him to Stockton.

Jokipakka's performance hasn't even been replacement level

Jokipakka's numbers over the course of his career have been pretty abhorrent.  When taking the numbers over the past three seasons and comparing them to the top 240 defensemen in minutes played in five-on-five situations, he's barely top 180 in any category (which would be a top six defenseman).  He's there in relative goals for and relative scoring chances for, but just barely at 177th and 179th.

The rest of the numbers, relative Corsi, Fenwick, shots, and xG along with adjusted Corsi and xG are not even top 210, marking him below a seventh defenseman.  This would indicate that not only should he not be playing regularly, but that there are concerns whether he should even be on the roster.  Basically, he would make a lackluster seventh defenseman or a good eighth defenseman.

Relative Numbers Adjusted
Player CF% FF% SF% GF% xGF% SCF% CF% xG%
Percentages -4.48 -4.5 -3.25 -3.42 -4.08 -2.27 44.08 44.626
Ranking 233 232 213 177 227 179 231 225
Numbers Score, Zone, Venue Adjusted - Adjusted Formula = .2*F%+.8*(50+Frel%)-QoT+QoC

His numbers with the Flames haven't really improved.  The adjusted Corsi, and relative shots for move into seventh defenseman territory, but the goals for moves down into seventh defenseman area and the relative scoring chances for drops down to one of the worst in the league.  In a word, he's been horrible.

Relative Numbers Adjusted
Player CF% FF% SF% GF% xGF% SCF% CF% xG%
Percentages -3.6 -4.34 -2.42 -4.46 -4.82 -7.19 46.036 45.88
Ranking 218 229 188 197 231 237 207 214
Numbers Score, Zone, Venue Adjusted - Adjusted Formula = .2*F%+.8*(50+Frel%)-QoT+QoC

Jokipakka has been one of the Flames worst defensemen

Of defensemen that are with the Flames Organization, Jokipakka has been the worst.  Even the much maligned Deryk Engelland and Dennis Wideman have had superiour performances than Jokipakka has.  The only individual worse than Jokipakka in adjusted Corsi and adjusted xG has been Oliver Kylington, and he's played less than 15 minutes total.

Given these numbers, there's no reason for the Flames to show as much confidence in Jokipakka as they have.  It would be one thing if he had shown any level of success at all with the Flames, but he's been miserable save for a bit of good luck in the goal differential.  There are players down in Stockton that have looked better than he has albeit in much smaller sample sizes.

Numbers with Flames From 2014 Until Jokipakka's Benching
Relative Numbers Adjusted
Player TOI CF% FF% SF% GF% xGF% SCF% CF% xG%
Brett Kulak
217.71 8.46 8.3 10.88 41.64 15.54 18.43 60.182 68.094
Mark Giordano
2815 4.71 3.29 2.96 1.21 2.42 -0.28 58.31 55.246
Tyler Wotherspoon
154.22 2.51 1.09 2.78 -11.45 10.93 24.17 54.074 62.974
T.J. Brodie
3127.15 2.36 1.16 1.67 0.72 0.92 0.33 55.904 53.228
Dougie Hamilton
1493.39 1.38 1.32 2.21 -8.3 -1.19 0.29 53.372 50.422
Ladislav Smid
627.13 -2.35 -0.55 0.58 -25.46 0.99 3.16 51.628 53.94
Deryk Engelland
2160.77 -3.67 -2.67 -2.4 -2.57 -1.67 1.2 47.816 49.836
Dennis Wideman
2377.9 -3.81 -3.56 -4.28 0.15 -4.12 -7.6 49.576 48.638
Jyrki Jokipakka
437.89 -3.6 -4.34 -2.42 -4.46 -4.82 -7.19 46.036 45.88
Oliver Kylington
14.8 -14.98 -23.4 -39.4 -47.65 -33.68 -44.37 34.59 18.846
Numbers Score, Zone, Venue Adjusted - Adjusted Formula = .2*F%+.8*(50+Frel%)-QoT+QoC
Ranking with Flames From 2014 Until Jokipakka's Benching
Relative Numbers Adjusted
Player TOI CF% FF% SF% GF% xGF% SCF% CF% xG%
Brett Kulak
217.71 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1
Mark Giordano
2815 2 2 2 2 3 7 2 3
Tyler Wotherspoon
154.22 3 5 3 8 2 1 4 2
T.J. Brodie
3127.15 4 4 5 3 5 5 3 5
Dougie Hamilton
1493.39 5 3 4 7 6 6 5 6
Ladislav Smid
627.13 6
6 6 9 4 3 6 4
Deryk Engelland
2160.77 8
7 7 5 7 4 8
Dennis Wideman
2377.9 9
8 9 4 8 9 7 8
Jyrki Jokipakka
437.89 7
9 8 6 9 8 9
Oliver Kylington
14.8 10
10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Jokipakka has continuously been the worst part of his tandem

There's often complaints about Hamilton whenever he plays with Jokipakka - he takes too many penalties, he's out of position, he doesn't contribute enough given his salary, etc.  Unfortunately for Hamilton, he's had the misfortune of being out with Jokipakka far too often.  Whomever draws Jokipakka as part of his pairing often sees a huge depreciation in their numbers.

There's been three defensemen on the Flames roster that have seen 50 plus minutes with and without Jokipakka since he was acquired on February 29th of this year until his most recent benching.  As one would expect, those consist of the right-side defensemen - T.J. Brodie, Engelland, and Hamilton.  Jokipakka's effect on them is damning.

Of the three, the only one that sees a boost in his Corsi is Brodie and that boost is minuscule.  Where they really get killed is in the xG.  All three see double digit drops in relative xG.

With Without Difference
Player TOI Rel.CF% Rel.xGF% TOI Rel.CF% Rel.xGF% Rel.CF% Rel.xGF%
Deryk Engelland 54.3 -9.74 -8.55 449.28 1.9 5.47 -11.64 -14.02
Dougie Hamilton 207.79 -2.04 -4.3 327.12 6.58 8.3 -8.62 -12.6
Tj Brodie 62.38 -2.53 -21.01 500.41 -3.42 -6.31 0.89 -14.7

There are better options than Jokipakka on and off the Flames

The most notable option other than Jokipakka is Tyler Wotherspoon.  As noted in the table above, he's had a much smaller sample size but has performed much better than Jokipakka has.  There's also the option to go with an even less proven defenseman such as Kylington, but his right handedness doesn't really serve the Flames all that well.

They could also waive or trade Jokipakka and fill his roster spot with a free agent.  Two notable guys that haven't been world beaters but have been considerably better than Jokipakka and also have unrestricted free agent status are Carlo Colaiacovo and former Flame Adam Pardy.  Both have considerably better possession metrics than Jokipakka and would likely come relatively cheap, particularly Pardy who is currently on an AHL deal.

Beyond that a trade is always a possibility and it isn't like the Flames need anything stellar on defense.  A simple left-handed defenseman that can push possession would be a huge asset going forward.  They could just as easily trade a late round pick for an unproven individual in hopes that he pans out.  Scavenging Europe is also an option, but anybody they obtained would have to clear waivers.

Numbers From 2013 Through 2015
Relative Numbers Adjusted
Player TOI CF% FF% SF% GF% xGF% SCF% CF% xG%
Carlo Colaiacovo
1317.71 3.02
Adam Pardy

Jokipakka's presence prevents the Flames from icing an optimal lineup

It's already been established that Jokipakka makes the defense worse, but without him the Flames are stuck with six defensemen in the lineup - Brodie, Engelland, Hamilton, Wideman, Brett Kulak, and Mark Giordano.  Without Jokipakka playing, Brodie gets forced to the left side.  Brodie has stated that he's more comfortable playing on the right side numerous times.

Brodie could be paired with anyone of Engelland, Wideman, or Hamilton.  Unfortunately he only does well with Hamilton while his performance is notably horrible with Engelland and Wideman.  That leaves Giordano to be paired with Wideman where the results have been terrible or Engelland where the results have been even worse than that.

Dumping Jokipakka for a guy who can play the left side allows the pairing of Giordano and Brodie to remain intact.  Another left defenseman would step in and play with either Engelland or Hamilton.  It would help to establish a clear cut order instead of trying to fit the square pegs of Jokipakka and Wideman into the round holes.  As it stands right now, somebody is always stuck carrying dead weight.

T.J. Brodie With Current Flames Right Handed Defensemen Since 2014
Player TOI Rel.CF% Rel.FF% Rel.SF% Rel.GF% Rel.xGF%
Deryk Engelland 477.94 -6.94 -3.77 -3.47 -9.24 -4.84
Dougie Hamilton 171.19 2.28 1.62 1.47 -16.76 3.44
Dennis Wideman 109.18 -8.06 -10.37 -10.63 -8.21 -15.66

The bottom line

The bottom line is that Jokipakka's is a detriment for a variety of a different reasons.  His numbers are worse than replacement level, he's bad even by the Flames standards, they have better options to work with, he drags his pairing down, and he keeps the team from being able to ice an optimal lineup.  There isn't any use keeping him around when guys like Wotherspoon sit in the minors.

Jokipakka isn't all that young by NHL standards and he doesn't have a lot of ceiling.  He's 25 years old and this is an individual who was selected in the seventh round five drafts ago.  If he hasn't peaked, he's very close to doing so and what limited ceiling is there screams out that he isn't good enough to have a permanent home in the NHL.

Sure, some will argue that Wideman should be the one to go, but that's easier said than done; Wideman has a no movement clause and has full control over where he goes.  That leaves the other six defensemen to choose from and it's blatantly obvious who the worst one is - it's Jokipakka and it isn't even close.  The sooner they make the move to rid themselves of him, the sooner they can stabilize the defense and hopefully establish a winning brand of hockey.

- Numbers from Corsica.Hockey