In case you missed it, the Chicago Blackhawks recently made a huge announcement. The Blackhawks have officially kicked off the NHL offseason with a big move. No, it is not John Tavares – yet. No, it was not John Carlson or Justin Faulk. The first big move of the Blackhawks’ offseason was the signing of 2017 1st Round pick, Henri Jokiharju, to a 3-year deal.

Who Is Henri Jokiharju?

Henri Jokiharju is not the 1st generation of the Jokiharju family to play professional hockey. In the 80’s and 90’s, Henri’s father, Juha, played in the top hockey league in Finland, Liiga, where he won 2 championships. Juha Jokiharju also won a bronze medal with Team Finland in the 1987-88 World Juniors tournament. He went onto France and led the league in scoring twice and won another championship. Henri also has a brother, Juho, who has played 3 seasons at Clarkson University.

Henri was drafted by the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2016 via the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Import Draft.

Jokiharju compares his game to Sami Vatanen of the New Jersey Devils.

Henri Jokiharju Is A Big Deal

Henri Jokiharju is a highly touted prospect and has been said to have “no real weakness”. NHL Central Scouting praised Jokiharju’s hockey abilities by describing him as,

“An excellent skater who is very elusive with the puck and can beat the forecheck with a pass or his skating ability. A very good passer with excellent vision – quickness and mobility allows him to take away time and space defensively.”

The Blackhawks drafted Henri Jokiharju 29th overall in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.

What an absolute steal by StanBo and Co! Looking back at it now, the Blackhawks definitely got some great value this late in the draft last year. Henri Jokiharju is an 18-year-old Finnish defenseman who has already mastered the art of puck-moving. Jokiharju already has a great two-way game and he is only going to get better with time. Insert Dr. Evil laugh here.

Jokiharju is already off to a blazing start in his young, promising career. The numbers don’t lie. Check it out for yourself.

Very impressive stuff from the youngster. To me, the thing that stands out the most about Henri Jokiharju is the number of points this kid racks up. As a defenseman, points can be very hard to come by and he makes it look easy.

Henri Jokiharju Lets His Game Do The Talking

After being drafted by the Blackhawks in 2017, Henri Jokiharju rejoined the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL) for another season. In 2017-18, Jokiharju upped his totals even more in his 2nd full season of North American hockey. He tallied 71 points (12G, 59A) in 63 games which was enough to get him selected to the WHL Western Second All-Star team.

His shot just sneaks up on goalies and it is always on target. This is something that the Blackhawks were desperately missing on offense last season. Take a look as Jokiharju showcases his offensive skills here as a member of the Portland Winterhawks last season. Keep an eye out for number 16.

Henri Jokiharju is a rare specimen. He plays defense but has the offensive abilities of a winger. Plus, his skating, shooting, and puckhandling abilities are mesmerizing and drool-inducing. If you take a look at the 2016 IIHF U18 highlight reel, you can see for yourself. Watch as number 28 leaves it all on the ice for Team Finland as a 16-year-old.

Henri Jokiharju Is Ready For His First Taste of the NHL

Henry Jokiharju tweeted a personal message about signing his very 1st NHL contract.

It is pretty refreshing to see a young kid who is a fan of the team he was drafted by. Jokiharju seems extremely happy and excited to play in Chicago and it could be as soon as next season.

If he pushes himself hard enough, you could be looking at one of the newest and youngest members of the 2018-19 Blackhawks team. After seeing his body of work as a member of the Portland Winterhawks, Jokiharju seems determined to make the NHL roster next season. It looks like he is going to take full advantage of his opportunity once the NHL preseason and training camp officially begins. The Blackhawks could definitely use his services.

A young, hungry Jokiharju will give the team a shot of adrenaline, especially on defense. If I was to predict a full strength line pairing for him, I see Jokiharju being paired with Duncan Keith on the 1st line of defense. They play a very similar style of hockey and would compliment each other very well. Jokiharju could also find himself as a regular member of the Power Play line. He plays the type of game that might be able to jumpstart the Power Play.

As Henri Jokiharju continues to gain more experience on North American ice, you can expect him to become a key contributor to the Blackhawks’ future success. If Henri Jokiharju ends up not cracking the NHL roster next season, things will get a little messy. Jokiharju would become an Entry Level Contract (ELC) slide candidate which means he would have to report back to the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

The one good thing about the slide clause is that Jokiharju’s contract would still be considered a 3-year deal and no time would come off since he is not a part of an NHL or AHL roster. This is a win-win situation any way you look at it. In my opinion, I believe Henri Jokiharju has a great shot at making the team because let’s face it, the defense was a black hole just sucking the life out of the team last season. They need help in a big way and it looks like the Blackhawks found their first upgrade of the offseason.

This is great news Blackhawks’ fans. Things are already looking up and the NHL offseason has only just begun.