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Who is Henri Jokiharju?

Breaking down Buffalo’s latest acquisition

On Tuesday, the Sabres traded Alex Nylander to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Henri Jokiharju. It was a simple, one-for-one deal that adds to an already heavy blueline in Buffalo. 

So, is this guy any good?

YES. While Nylander may still turn out to be a high-quality NHL forward, Jokiharju has the potential to not only make the team this season, but slide right into Buffalo’s top four, or even top two down the road. A big part of that may be any potential Rasmus Ristolainen deal, but Jokiharju could make more of an impact for the Sabres this season than Nylander did since he was drafted.

A scouting report by Ben Kerr from Last Word On Sports from 2017:

“Jokiharju has the potential to be a top-four defenceman in the NHL. If he continues to develop, he can play on the power play and the penalty kill. He needs to add some muscle to his frame though and could stand to really work on his slap shot and wrister going forward. That may limit him to being more of a second unit, than first unit power play defenceman. In terms of style, he is reminiscent of Tomas Kaberlein terms of offensive game but is much more physical and aggressive in the physical game.”

Since then, Jokiharju has added 20-something pounds.

An article from stated that he is still an excellent prospect who has no real weakness.

“Jokiharju himself compares his style to that of New Jersey Devils blueliner Sami Vatanen. He has plenty of upside as an offensive defenseman with hope to one day quarterback a power play at the NHL level.”

Jokiharju has a cap hit of $925,000 for each of the next two seasons and he’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of that deal.

Look at what Buffalo’s defense could look like on opening night, assuming Ristolainen is dealt: 

That could be a very underrated defensive group. 

Moving on from Nylander is a better move for both sides.

Nylander struggled to really find his groove at the AHL level, making it difficult to envision him making the roster any time soon. 

It’s not a guarantee that Jokiharju cracks the opening night lineup, but don’t be surprised to see his name there. 

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