Analysis

Blackhawks Will Need Breakthrough Seasons From These Players

By Tony Gianares
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 08: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju (28) looks on during a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Chicago Blackhawks on November 8, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 08: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju (28) looks on during a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Chicago Blackhawks on November 8, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 07: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju (28) skates with the puck in the 1st period during an NHL hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks on October 07, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo By Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 07: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju (28) skates with the puck in the 1st period during an NHL hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Chicago Blackhawks on October 07, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo By Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Henri Jokiharju

Henri Jokiharju had a great start to his NHL career at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. The fact that he debuted alongside a legend like Duncan Keith says a lot about Jokiharju’s skillset and potential.

Through his first 20 NHL games, Henri Jokiharju was getting all of the minutes he could handle. Most nights he was playing 20+ minutes alongside Keith. In 14 of his first 20 games, he had 20+ minutes of ice time. He also had 6 points (6A) in his first 10 games.

Jokiharju would ride his momentum all the way to December 16th, 2018, which was the last game he played before leaving to join Team Finland for the U20 IIHF World Juniors. He was named an alternate captain and posted some stellar numbers while representing his country — 5 points (2G, 3A) in 7 games with a 6 ± rating. Finland’s alternate captain would help lead them to a gold medal.

After returning to the Blackhawks with a gold medal, the wheels would slowly fall off for Henri Jokiharju. He would struggle mightily for 6 games before being sent down to the Rockford IceHogs for the rest of the 2018-19 season. Here is the breakdown of those 6 forgettable games.

Jokiharju has shown that he has the potential to be at least a Top 4 defenseman for the Blackhawks. Playing for Team Sweden in the 2019 IIHF MWC will also be good for confidence heading into the 2019-20 NHL season.

https://twitter.com/Blackhawk_Up/status/1124026496690073601?s=20

The Blackhawks really need Henri Jokiharju to take that next step, because they can’t afford another season with a non-existent defense.

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