New Jersey Devils general manager, Tom Fitzgerald re-signed forward Janne Kuokkanen for a two-year deal estimated with an annual average of $1,825,000. Janne earned this qualifying offer from the Devils. This extension plays a key role in the growth of Fitzgerald’s young team growing together to build veteran leadership, and becoming more experienced with the new key veteran acquisitions done recently by the Devils’ general manager.
The Importance of Kuokkanen
Kuokkanen came in the Sami Vatanen deal a few seasons back in the 2019-2020 season and has been a key component in being part of New Jersey’s young and talented nucleus. After Janne was on loan to Kärpät in Finland’s Liiga, Kuokkanen yielded seven points in 16 games while scoring four assists and three goals.
Back with the New Jersey Devils Kuokkanen scored 25 points in 50 games with 17 assists. At a half-point pace per game, Janne can yield in the neighborhood of 41 points in an 82 game season if he were to play in every game.
Theoretically, he’d fetch 13 goals and 28 assists in a full season.
Janne’s Productivity Potential
If Janne can keep up on a pace like this with new teammates like Tomáš Tatar in the lineup and possible additions internally or externally between now and the end of training camp. You’re looking at a guy who could pot over 50-55 points. Those kinds of numbers would help him be a solid second line forward.
The best way to describe Janne Kuokkanen is that he’s a very elusive forward in the sense of going where it’s less crowded between high and low danger areas. Kuokkanen is smooth and agile. He has good hands not only as a playmaker but can chip in a few goals. Janne likes to make players around him better. It showed in his style of play during a very down season affected by COVID-19.
His offensive zone transition game is what Tom Fitzgerald likes in his forwards being able to make heads-up plays and can get to slow the game down a bit in the offensive zone. Janne likes to think it out before making a decision.
The core group of players’s still together from last season. The additions of Jonathan Bernier, Dougie Hamilton, Tatar are all part of the New Jersey Devils. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier is a veteran goalie who can make it easier for Kuokkanen to stop pucks on even strength and help to change the momentum during a game. Hamilton will likely spike Janne’s point totals with even strength and possible power-play points. Having Tatar being a solid finisher on Kuokkanen’s left flank would increase the number of points and goals totals between the Slovak veteran winger and the versatile center winger from Finland.
Progression to Veteran Leadership
As Kuokkanen progresses into an established forward under Tom Fitzgerald’s system the room for improvements will help him grow into being a solid veteran player. The Finnish forward has grown to be not only part of the rebuild but will also end up being part of the push for playoff contention. Contending for meaningful postseason runs, and making a big mark on the Devils fan base not only from a points production side but as a leader. The Devils look to building solid depth with skill on their first three lines, and Janne can add his Finnish touches to the team’s offensive chemistry. With more veterans like a Tatar on and off the ice building a sustainable on and off the ice culture Fitzgerald has been looking for a sustainable route for near and long-term success. Janne may be more soft-spoken like most Finnish players in the NHL, but he maintains a blue-collar attitude that can provide the competitive balance as he progresses as a Devil.
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