2016-17 Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Date of Birth: June 17, 1999
Place of Birth: Oulu, Finland
Ht: 6′ 0″ Wt: 170 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2017 first-year eligible
- THW: 36
- Craig Button: 35
- Future Considerations: 32
- ISS: 24
- Hockey Prophets: 31
- The Draft Analyst: 22
Adding a puck-moving, right-handed defender is on every team’s wishlist. In the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, that will include the Portland Winterhawks‘ import defenseman Henri Jokiharju. His early season in Portland had some hiccups as he adapted to a new style of play, coaching and culture but after the Christmas break he came into his own. Jokiharju surprisingly was left off the Team Finland U20 team, a decision Finland likely regrets.
He earned Player of the Game honors for Team Cherry at the CHL’s Top Prospects game. With no WJC break, Jokiharju skated in 71 contests and completed the regular season with 49 points. Of the nine goals Jokiharju posted during the regular season, which was good for third on the Winterhawks among defenseman, four goals came on the power play. In postseason action, he added three assists in a surprising run in the WHL playoffs.
Jokiharju’s biggest asset is his skating ability. He is fluid and shows a good first step as well as solid straight line speed and transitions easily from forward to backwards. He has the mobility to get himself and the puck up the ice and above-average offensive instincts.
Adding it all together, Jokiharju is the type of defender you want coming up the ice with the puck on his stick. He has the moves to make a forechecker miss and the puck control to keep it away from the opposition. His passing skills are excellent and his shot is of average velocity but he gets the puck on net with regularity in the offensive zone.
Defensively, Jokiharju relies more on solid positioning and great reads to keep his stick in the shooting and passing lanes, cutting down on space allowed for attacking forwards. He is not the biggest defender, at about 6′, and needs to add mass to a decent-sized frame. Despite not being a physically imposing defender, there is a measure of sand in Jokiharju. He is not easily intimidated and can mix it up if need be.
NHL Draft Projection
Jokiharju will likely see his name called somewhere in the late first round. If he is still available outside the top 31 selections, a team could move up to pluck him early in the second.
“I’m a puck mover. I like to keep the puck and long breakout passes. I see the ice pretty good and like playing the power play, of course. I also like playing shorthanded. I want to be part of the team.” – Henri Jokiharju
“Henri Jokiharju is a high-end, smooth skating defenseman with great instincts at both ends of the rink. He excels at moving the puck and he also possesses the awareness to be reliable defensively, despite not being the biggest or strongest of defensemen.” – Marco Bombino
- Skating and mobility
- On-ice vision
- Quick transition game
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to add mass
- Shot velocity
Jokiharju checks a lot of boxes for NHL clubs and projects as a bottom-four defender that sees time on the second power-play unit.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense –7/10
Awards/Achievements in 2016-17
CHL Top Prospects Game Player of the Game (Team Cherry)