Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: D Henri Jokiharju

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Once again the Vancouver Canucks failed to secure a spot in the NHL playoffs. So, instead of competing for the Stanley Cup, Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the upcoming months to prepare next season’s roster. Now that the organisation is officially in a ‘transition period’, the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will be of utmost importance.

A four-game winning streak to start the 2016-17 season gave fans hope for the playoffs. But — blame the coach, the roster, injuries or anything else — unfortunately, the team was unable to play competitively for an entire season. With that, they are guaranteed another high draft pick this year.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming draft by profiling as many eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

This year’s draft seems wide-open, with no real consensus in any of the seven rounds. So, it will certainly be interesting to see who will put on a Vancouver Canucks jersey come June.

After profiling two probable first-round picks in Nolan Patrick and Timothy Liljegren, let’s take a look at a potential second-round selection: defenceman Henri Jokiharju.

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Name: Henri Jokiharju

Position: Defence

Shoots: Right

Birthdate: 1999-06-17

Height, weight: 6’0”, 170 lbs

Team, league: Portland Winterhawks, WHL

Stats (from 







#24 by ISS Hockey
#32 by Future Considerations
#19 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Top-four defenceman

Draft Range: Top 40

Scouting report

"A smart, shifty and skilled two-way rearguard…plays a steady game with a high end skillset…confidence with the puck and is a creative playmaker…skates well with solid speed and agility…strong transitional footwork…great panic threshold and withstands pressure by outmaneuvering opponents and digging his feet in withstand physical pressure…moves quick and decisively…has vision to hit his pass up ice with consistency, handling the puck well…not overly aggressive on the offensive line but assesses risk and will jump in to keep pucks alive or enter the zone to lead a rush…shoots the puck effectively; not breaking velocity records but generating rebounds with his accurate wrist shot and consistently connecting on the one timer…needs some strength as he can get outmuscled…one of those guys who seemingly never comes off the ice…has the potential to be a high end, pace controlling defender at the next level.  (Future Considerations, November 2016)"


Henri Jokiharju is a mobile defenceman who profits from his excellent skating and puck skills. A Finnish CHL import, Jokiharju adjusted to the North American game quickly and found ways to develop a solid offensive game while maintaining his defensive reliability.

What stands out most about Jokiharju is his play with the puck. He has great speed and puck skills that allow him to carry the puck out of trouble and start an attack. Jokiharju has the ability to get into open lanes in the neutral zone and move around opponents thanks to great mobility and good speed.

His speed and agility are also what helps him defensively. If he gets caught up in a play, Jokiharju uses his transitional skills and speed to recover quickly and get back into position. He displays strong gap control and solid stick work that force attackers to make plays.


More from Draft

Perhaps Jokiharju’s biggest weakness is his frame, as he is not overly tall and comes in at just 170 pounds. Players like Troy Stecher are proving smallish defencemen can succeed in the NHL. But players like Stecher are also proving that smallish defencemen struggle physically in the NHL. If Jokiharju puts on some weight and develops strength, he will be fine — but he likely won’t be much of a physical guy.

As to his actual abilities, some scouts question Jokiharju’s hockey sense. He has the abilities to carry the puck up ice, but he doesn’t always know what to do next. Jokiharju might not be someone who makes big plays, but rather one who supports the play in a low-risk style.

A last negative, though this one goes hand-in-hand with his overall strength, is his shot. Jokiharju can get pucks at the net and force the goalie to make a save, but he doesn’t have much power behind it.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to like about Jokiharju, starting with his position and handedness. Right-handed defencemen are in high demand in the NHL, so every team in the bottom half of the first round will give him a long look. That said, if teams question his sense or simply like another player more, there is a chance that he drops to the second round. And if he does, the Canucks could get an excellent prospect.

With the WHL Portland Winterhawks, Jokiharju is getting a ton of ice time in every situation. He can kill penalties, he can be a power-play guy and he can lead the rush in even strength. I am not sure if he can be the offensive player Canucks GM Jim Benning wants, but he is an excellent all-around defenceman nonetheless.

Next: 2017 Draft Profile Overview

The Canucks have been building up a young defensive core with Stecher, Ben Hutton, Nikita Tryamkin and Olli Juolevi. Jokiharju could be the next Finn in line — as long as the Canucks don’t pick a D-man in the first round. But given Vancouver’s likely draft position and the question marks surrounding this year’s top D-prospects, that seams unlikely.