Current Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Date of Birth: June 17, 1999
Hometown: Oulu, Finland
Weight: 187 lbs.
The old-school, stay-at-home defenseman has fallen out of favor in today’s up-tempo, offensive NHL. Henri Jokiharju fits the new mold as a right-shot, puck-moving defenseman who helped Finland win an gold medal at the 2016 World U-18 Championship.
Jokiharju can skate extremely well and boasts the ability to get the puck up ice in a hurry. He scored nine goals (with 48 points, leading all WHL rookie defensemen) in his first season for Portland, blossoming after an initial adjustment period and earning Player of the Game Honors at the CHL Top Prospects game. He comes from a hockey family, too: his father, Juha, played professionally for the Finnish Elite League (SM-liiga) throughout the 1980s and 1990s, playing against Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen for a couple seasons.
Jokiharju isn’t physically intimidating, but that’s something that can be improved in the professional ranks. He has a solid, all-around game and you know the type by now—good at moving the puck, high hockey IQ and an excellent skater. Most rankings peg the young Finn in the 24-35 range.
Last season, the Blue Jackets found itself with a competitive situation at forward, with several players like Oliver Bjorkstrand, Lukas Sedlak and Sonny Milano knocking at the door during camp and throughout the year making a case for time in the NHL. That hasn’t necessarily been the case defensively, which isn’t a bad thing (also, of course, there are fewer players to deal with). Adding a right-handed defenseman who can add some offense would make a great use of any team’s first round pick this far into day one. If he’s available, picking up Jokiharju would make sense.
|2013-2014||Jokerit U16||Jr. C SM-sarja Q||2||0||5||5||2|
|Jokerit U16||Jr. C SM-sarja||32||6||17||23||14|
|2014-2015||Jokerit U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||37||8||22||30||6|
|Finland U16 (all)||International-Jr||8||1||6||7||2|
|Finland U18 (all)||International-Jr||1||0||0||0||0|
|2015-2016||Tappara U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||0||0||0||0||0|
|Tappara U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||47||9||20||29||20|
|Finland U18||Hlinka Memorial||5||0||2||2||0|
|Finland U20 (all)||International-Jr||7||0||1||1||0|
“The freshly turned 18-year-old is your prototypical new age defender. He’s not the biggest player but skates well, offers solid offensive awareness and promising defensive zone coverage. His U18 tournament left scouts with the impression that he can step up in big games and consistently make safe plays. Always quick to make a smart outlet pass, Jokiharju is also adept at skating the puck out of the defensive end and pushing the pace to set up offensive chances.” - Dobber Prospects
“No real weakness. Tools to be a two-way d-man at the #NHL level that can play all situations.” - ISS Hockey
“He's an excellent skater, elusive with the puck and can beat the forecheck with a pass or his feet. He had three assists in seven games to help Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 World U-18 Championship.” - Mike Morreale