Photo Credit: Marissa Baecker/Getty Images
By Scott Rosenhek
Second Round Spotlight is a new series of profiles for players that I would hope for the Canucks to select at 33rd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.
The first player I would like to focus on in the second round is Finnish defenceman, Henri Jokiharju. He plays for the Portland Winterhawks and is one of the younger players in this year’s draft.
Jokiharju is a right-shot defender and scored 9 goals and 48 points in 71 games with the Winterhawks. If we are comparing to current prospects in the Canucks pipeline, that is more than Olli Juolevi. However, it is important to know that Jokiharju played 19 more games than Juolevi in the CHL. Jokiharju’s points-per-game (PPG) was 0.676 and Juolevi’s was 0.736 in his draft year.
I think it is worth noting that Olli Juolevi produced more power play points in his draft year, partly due to the powerhouse London Knights team that featured Matthew Tkachuk, Christian Dvorak and Mitch Marner. Juolevi only produced 18 points at even strength (0.316 PPG) while Jokiharju produced 30 even strength points (0.423 PPG). If Juolevi had played the same number of games as Jokiharju, he would only have had 22 even strength points.
Part of the reason why Henri Jokiharju may fall to the second round may be due to the fact that he is only 170 pounds. He is 6 feet tall, with a frame that he can fill out as he develops, so I do not think this should be a concern. However, NHL drafting tends to favour bigger, heavier players for the most part. This would be a chance to grab a steal at the top of the second round. Don’t let his weight fool you as he is more than willing to mix it up in the dirty areas of the ice with bigger players.
Henri Jokiharju is a smooth skating, two-way defenceman and according to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek, he makes a terrific first pass. He has tremendous puck handling skills, with the ability to protect the puck in his own zone and avoids forechecking forwards with ease. A common attribute I like to highlight in many prospects is their transition game through the neutral zone and Henri Jokijarju excels in this area of the ice. He is very mobile and will likely be relied on to carry the puck out of his own end to start a rush up the ice.
Jokiharju can also be used in a power play role. While his teammate and primary Winterhawks power play quarterback Caleb Jones was away at the World Juniors, Jokiharju took on his role and flourished. He scored 4 points on the power play in 6 games and picked up 2 more even strength points in that same span.
His shot is not very fast, but he directs many of them towards the opposition’s net. This was a helpful aspect of his game during the 2016 Under 18 World Junior Championships. He was on the gold medal-winning Finnish team and collected 3 points in 7 games.
Henri Jokiharju is a highly skilled, mobile, puck-moving defenceman. He is a shot production machine and can really push play at even strength and in a power play role. The Canucks have had trouble generating shots for the last three years, so a prospect like Jokiharju may contribute to changing that in the future if selected.
Here is a link to Henri Jokiharju’s hightlights from the 2016 U18 World Juniors.