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Henri Jokiharju is another in a line of excellent Finnish defencemen available in the 2017 NHL Draft. After helping Finland win the 2016 Under 18 World Championships, as an underager, Jokiharju decided that he would leave his club team Tappara in Finland, and play his draft season in North America. He was drafted 25th overall in the CHL Import Draft and joined the Portland Winterhawks. Jokiharju had an excellent first season in the WHL, putting up nine goals and 48 points in 71 games. He also added three assists in 11 playoff games.
In addition to his work at the 2016 Under 18s, Jokiharju also represented Finland at this summer’s Ivan Hlinka Tournament and at the 2015-16 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.
Jokiharju comes from good bloodlines. His father, Juha Jokiharju was a right wing who played in the Finnish SM-Liiga throughout the late 1980s and most of the 1990s.
Henri Jokiharju Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #38
Defense — Shoots Right
Born June 17th, 1999 — Tampere, Finland
Height 6’0″ — Weight 170 lbs [183 cm / 77 kg]
Henri Jokiharju is a very good skater. He has excellent edge work and pivots which allow him to transition from offence to defence quickly and efficiently. They also allow him to cover huge amounts of ice. Jokiharju has a very good first step, and excellent acceleration. He wins races to loose pucks and quickly starts the transition game. His speed is very good, going both forward and backwards. This allows Jokiharju to join the rush, or pinch in at the blue line, and get back defensively.
Jokiharju is a solid puck handler. He can lead the rush or join in as a trailer. He also has the poise to quarterback the play from the blue line. Jokiharju keeps his head up and makes smart passes. He can make the long stretch pass in transition, as well as make a cross ice pass to set-up a one-timer for a teammate. Jokiharju possesses excellent vision, the smarts to see plays developing before they happen, as well as the skill to fit the puck through tight openings. He makes those passing lanes a little less tight, through his excellent lateral mobility and poise with the puck.
One area that Jokiharju can greatly improve is his shot. He rarely uses his slap shot or one-timer, but when he does, it lacks power. He really needs to improve both his technique and his upper body strength for this to be more of a weapon for him. Instead Jokiharju uses his wrist shot. It is accurate and has a quick release, but it also has a lack of power.
Jokiharju has very good positioning and gap control. He keeps his man to the outside and away from the dangerous areas of the ice. His good lateral agility, makes him very hard to beat in one-on-one situations. An active stick helps him to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Jokiharju is aggressive physically despite his small frame. He battles hard in the corners and in front of the net, and is also willing throw big hits. However, he really needs to bulk up if he is going to play with this same physically aggressive style at the next level.
Projection and Comparison
Jokiharju has the potential to be a top four defenceman in the NHL. If he continues to develop, he can play on the power play and the penalty kill. He needs to add some muscle to his frame though, and could stand to really work on his slap shot and wrister going forward. That may limit him to being more of a second unit, than first unit power play defenceman. In terms of style, he is reminscent of Tomas Kaberle in terms of offensive game, but is much more physical and aggressive in the physical game.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.