Tuesday, May 27, 2008

NHL Draft Prospect: Justin Jokinen

Player: Justin Jokinen
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 165 lbs.
Shoots: Right
CSB Mid-term: 60th
CSB Final Ranking: 54th

Justin Jokinen first began attracting serious attention during his junior year of high school, when he played on the wing alongside of Tyler Johnson, who now plays for Colorado College. Though Johnson suffered some injuries his senior year, Jokinen still had a very successful season, racking up 51 points.

Jokinen was still relatively unknown heading into his senior year. But he drew the attention of scouts during the fall's Midwest Elite League for his combination of size, skating, and passing ability. His numbers while playing for Team North were average; 5 goals and 13 assists, but Jokinen played exceptionally well at the end-of-season National Invitational Tournament in front of dozens of scouts. Jokinen was the leading scorer on his championship winning team, outscoring a number of other potential NHL draft picks.

Jokinen had a good senior season with Cloquet-Esko-Carleton, though probably not as dominant as one would expect for a player rated as highly as he is. The absence of Tyler Johnson as a linemate seemed to hurt his productivity. Rather than playing on the wing, his natural position, Jokinen played center, and he had to become his team's primary goal-scoring threat, rather than his more natural role of a playmaker. Not surprisingly, his numbers went down from 51 points as a junior to 39 as senior. Cloquet head coach Dave Esse told NHL.com, "There weren't many skilled players around him this season and, to be honest, he would have probably had about 70 points if there were. His season still ended as a success, however. He helped Cloquet pull off a pair of upsets to reach the state high school tournament, and he was one of ten finalists for Minnesota's Mr. Hockey Award.

After the high school season was over, Jokinen made a commitment to play hockey at Minnesota State. During the high school season, he passed on offers from Alaska and Mercyhurst in hopes of finding a spot in the WCHA. He was also pursued by St. Cloud, Minnesota-Duluth, and Alaska-Anchorage, but eventually settled on the Mavericks because they offered him the opportunity to play for them next season, as opposed to playing a year of junior hockey in the USHL.

Jokinen is likely to draw comparisons to the most famous C-E-C alum, Jamie Langenbrunner. It's not a bad comparison, though Langenbrunner is more of a power forward-type, while Jokinen is more flashy. Aside from Langenbrunner, Jokinen might also be compared to Minnesota State great David Backes. Both are big guys that pass the puck extremely well. Though again, Backes has become more of a checker at the NHL-level, whereas Jokinen's skating is much better.

Jokinen's best asset is that he's well over six feet tall and has the skating ability and hands of someone much smaller. He is able to both set up plays and finish them off. Plus, he has the potential to become even more of a force once he adds some strength.

Strength is one of the biggest areas where Jokinen needs to improve. NHL Central Scouting lists him at 165 lbs. With his frame, he could stand to gain 25-30 pounds of muscle. Some have also questioned Jokinen's intensity and toughness after seeing some of his high school games this past season, but both of those problems should be corrected playing for Minnesota State.

At the NHL level, Jokinen projects to be a second or third line winger that can play a physical role and also consistently chip in points.

Jokinen was listed at 54th in the Final CSB rankings, which projects to a 4th or 5th round draft pick. Opinions will vary wildly among NHL teams on Jokinen. In the end, I think Jokinen will end up getting picked somewhere in the late 3rd or early fourth round.

Quotable

NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee said: "When Justin kicks that intensity up he has that snap and finesse that allows him to make big plays. He can come down on the defenseman, use him as a screen and snap the puck off to surprise the goalie. He’s one of those guys that has the uncanny ability to put the puck in the net -- I think he can be a goal scorer at any level - he just needs to get stronger.”

Cloquet head coach Dave Esse said: "He is just a kid that has worked at it. Justin has really grown and is just unbelievably dedicated. He’s one of the top skill kids that I’ve ever coached and I’ve coached for the last 18 years in high school here."

Further Reading

Carlton senior Justin Jokinen's play has teams calling

CEC standout Justin Jokinen to play hockey at Mankato State

"More Jokinen" from the Duluth News-Tribune blog

NHL.com Draft Dandies

Hockey's Future 2008 Draft Prospects: Justin Jokinen

2 comments:

JOWT said...

Thanks for the insight. I'm looking forward to seeing Jokinen play this fall.

Colby said...

Blues interested in drafting him

Go Lumberjacks!