Why the Chicago Blackhawks need Henri Jokiharju

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks and their fans are extremely excited about prospect Henri Jokiharju, but what impact will he have this season?

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Henri Jokiharju is one of the most intriguing players for this team heading into the upcoming season. Jokiharju signed a 3-year entry level contract with the Blackhawks after having 12 goals and 71 total points in 63 games for the Portland Winterhawks. The Blackhawks’ front office, along with their fans, expect Jokiharju to come in and make an immediate impact.

It used to be a common thought that young defensemen struggled early in their careers to adjust to the NHL game speed. However, with recent players such as Charlie McAvoy stepping into and excelling in a first pairing role, the theories are changing. McAvoy played largely first pairing minutes on a playoff team, and not only excelled in his own role, but also reignited Zdeno Chara.

The Blackhawks have a very similar situation for Jokiharju. While Duncan Keith did not fall off quite as much as Chara, it is well known that Keith did not live up to his regular standards this past year.

One of the major reasons Keith struggled was because the Blackhawks could not find a consistent top pairing partner that would compliment his style of play. When you are constantly changing partners, it makes it hard to develop any rhythm.

While this outcome is not a guarantee, it is the best case scenario for the Blackhawks heading into the upcoming season. Jokiharju is a right-shot defenseman who plays an offensive minded game, and can skate the puck through the neutral zone and into the offensive zone.

Keith, on the other hand, is more of a two-way stay at home defenseman who can pass the puck through the neutral zone. Their styles of play compliment each other perfectly on paper.

Trending. Blackhawks: Corey Crawford's comments spark more questions. light

If Keith and Jokiharju can form a formidable top pairing on the blue line, it would go a long way to helping the Blackhawks get back into the playoffs. Not only would it improve the top line, but it would allow the second and third pairings to be filled with more accomplished defense men instead of young and unproven prospects. For Coach Quennville’s sake, he needs to hope Jokiharju turns into a Charlie McAvoy and that he and Keith can stabilize a blue line that struggled last year.