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Chicago Blackhawks Future Friday Profile: Ville Pokka

By Mario Tirabassi
Oct 1, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Ville Pokka (17) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Ville Pokka (17) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the second period at Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pokka Awaiting His Chance In Chicago

Since arriving with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Ville Pokka has been looked at as one of the top future defensive prospects that the Blackhawks had in their system. In the Nick Leddy trade, Pokka came to Chicago from the Islanders at the beginning of the 2014-15 season and played the entire season with the Rockford IceHogs, playing in 68 games and scoring 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists). In 2014-15, Pokka was also named to the AHL All-Rookie team and, while never skating in an NHL game, was recalled to the Blackhawks during the postseason and showed promise.

Last season, Pokka was the top defender on the IceHogs roster, skating in 76 games and scoring 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists). Pokka’s 45 points tied him for fourth in the AHL in scoring for defenders, but he is still looking for his first NHL game with the Blackhawks.

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Pokka Helping Finland At World Championships

While Pokka has shown promise from the work he has done in the AHL with the IceHogs, most of the impressive resume he has amassed has come from his playing time with the Finnish National Team. Since 2010, Pokka has played for Team Finland at multiple tournaments around the world, earning a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in 2014. He has played in 128 games in total for his country, scoring 69 points.

Currently, Pokka is playing with Team Finland at the IIHF World Championships in Russia and has the Fins playing in the semifinal round against Team Russia.  Pokka has played in seven games at the Championships and has tallied two assists in his time.

Future Projection

Pokka is a developing player similar to Duncan Keith, in that he can play a solid 200-foot defensive game and produce number offensively as well. He doesn’t play a necessarily physical game, but uses his frame (6-foot, 200 lbs.) to his advantage to position himself to make the right play. For the upcoming 2016-17 season, don’t be surprised if Pokka sees zero ice time with the IceHogs and plays the entire season with Chicago.

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For Pokka to make his way into the Blackhawks roster, the biggest thing he’ll have to do is … wait. Watching Pokka play shows you that he is NHL-ready and his time to get to the Blackhawks is coming, for sure. With the Blackhawks more than likely losing both Michal Rozsival and Christian Ehrhoff this summer, Pokka will have a golden opportunity to take his spot among the talented Blackhawks defensive group.

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