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Jussi Jokinen nets hat trick against Canes while on their salary cap

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

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The Carolina Hurricanes have Jussi Jokinen on their payroll this season for $900,000 and on Tuesday night he had a hat trick in their game against Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for Carolina, Jokinen plays for the Penguins.

Last season the Hurricanes let go of Jokinen after he had a slow start to the season (six goals, five assists in 33 games) and eventually they worked out a trade with the Penguins. In the trade the Hurricanes retained $900,000 of salary and sent Jokinen to Pittsburgh for only a conditional late-round draft pick. On Tuesday night he paid them back.

Jokinen, who has found himself very comfortable in Pittsburgh's lineup, finished the game with three goals and wouldn't you know, the Penguins won by three, a final of 5-2. Talk about adding insult to injury.

What's more is that this is now five goals that Jokinen has scored on the Canes in the three games against them since the trade. Yes, he feels good.

It's proof that despite the fact the Jokinen trade received the least amount of attention last season, it was easily the best the Penguins made. Not only is he the only player left that they acquired in trades last season (Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray all left in free agency), but he's been the best and most useful as well. Especially by getting the Canes to retain cap space on Jokinen's contract, it has been one of GM Ray Shero's best moves, certainly recently.

Jokinen showed the Hurricanes as much on Tuesday night. Nothing like paying somebody to beat you.

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