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Pens points: Lines from pre-game skate, Jussi Jokinen, Martin and more!

A look at the Pittsburgh Penguins after their morning skate before Game 5? Things are looking better for Chris Kunitz than Brenden Morrow. Also a closer look at the Jussi Jokinen trade and potential ramifications.

Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

Some news and notes around the Penguins:

``Biggest things from above- no main changes. Nice to see Chris Kunitz in his normal spot after leaving Game 4 twice. Also Brenden Morrow back on the ice but wasn’t on his usual 3rd line position, leading signals to point to him missing another game. Other than that, the lines remain basically the same, which you would expect given the success the Penguins had in Game 4.

``Some changes here- Kris Letang with Mark Eaton for rushes. Letang is double-shifted a lot and plays with a variety of players, but it’ll be interesting to see if they pair Douglas Murray with Matt Niskanen. Putting Niskanen on the 3rd pair would allow for a little more skating and puck-moving ability than most of Murray’s 3rd pairing partners this post-season (mainly Eaton or Deryk Engelland). The stress-point will be on Eaton having to eat more minutes on the 2nd pair, but as mentioned, they can ride Letang and get him to play some shifts with Niskanen to shelter Murray’s minutes.

``Interesting piece by Mike Colligan at The Hockey Writers about Jussi Jokinen. Check it out, it’s worth your time and has a bunch of good observations, but here’s the kicker:

It’s also worth remembering the details of the Jokinen trade. Carolina is picking up the tab on $900k of Jokinen’s $3 million cap hit for this season and next, and there is also a conditional pick involved. According to Bob McKenzie, if Jokinen plays 25 percent of Pittsburgh’s playoff games AND Pittsburgh goes to the Finals, Carolina gets a seventh round pick. If Jokinen plays 50 percent of Pittsburgh’s playoff games AND Pittsburgh wins the Cup, Carolina gets a sixth round pick.

Jokinen has played in five of the Penguins’ 10 playoff games so far — exactly half. It doesn’t make sense to bench a player you traded for just to avoid giving up a low pick, but if Rossi was correct about Jokinen’s injury and there’s a choice between dressing a healthy Tanner Glass or a banged up Jokinen, the pick might be a factor. On one hand, sixth round picks aren’t very valuable. Among players drafted in the sixth round of drafts from 1988 to 1997, only nine percent have gone on to play over 200 games in the NHL. On the other hand, Penguins GM Ray Shero and Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford wouldn’t have wasted time drawing up detailed conditions if they didn’t care about the picks.

Like Colligan says, there isn’t much a difference in the value of a 6th or 7th round pick, but it definitely is interesting the level of complexity of the trade (salary with-held, plus conditions based on the Pens progress) means something to the guys that made it.

I don’t know if they’ve with-held Jokinen due to trade constraints, but it wouldn’t make sense to do so. Jokinen scored 11 points in 10 regular season games with the Pens and has the versatility and ability to help the Pens in just about any role (scoring production, two-way, faceoffs) that it wouldn’t be worth the difference in a 6th and 7th round pick to sit him for an inferior player. Especially considering that Joe Vitale (9 for 21 in faceoffs vs. Ottawa in two games) hasn’t worked there, and Jokinen plugged in could bring a lot more to the mix and perform better in faceoffs.

Further on the draft pick thoughts, I would favor quantity over the quality when it comes to later draft picks. Take enough shots and one might pan out into a prospect when the draft gets that deep. The Pens may be out their 6th round pick if they play Jokinen and win, but they have an extra 7th (thanks Eric Tangradi trade) and their own 7th to use for late round selections. They’ll still have two picks towards the end of the draft, even if they have to move back 30 selections for the Jokinen deal. And for a team that’s dealt 2013 1st and 2nd round picks for Jarome Iginla and Douglas Murray, the team has basically already surrendered their prime picks for vets.

To my thinking, at least, what’s the big deal surrendering a 6th rounder instead of a 7th rounder, if the difference means you can play Jokinen, a player good enough to be among the 12 forwards the Penguins dressed every night, assuming health (which may be the reason he was scratched in the first place).

``The Pensblog links today are worth it if only for the face on Douglas Murray. [The Pensblog]

``In the latest of the “Praise Paul Martin tour”, Jesse from Faceoff-Factor has a cool breakdown of Martin’s playoff.

``A look at some reasons that Senators fans are grasping for to show they still have positives to cling to.