The Blackhawks locked up their top defenseman prospect on Tuesday morning by agreeing to terms with Henri Jokiharju on a three-year, entry-level contract that runs through the 2020-21 campaign.
Jokijarhu, who was drafted by Chicago in the first round (No. 29 overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, is coming off a season in which he recorded 12 goals and 59 assists for a career-high 71 points in 63 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He also compiled eight points (three goals, five assists) in 12 postseason contests.
The 18-year-old Finnish defenseman is expected to participate at Blackhawks Development Camp from July 14-20 at MB Ice Arena, where he'll get his first early look by the team and the progress he's made compared to last summer.
It won't be until September during training camp and into the preseason games before he gets a real chance to prove himself, but don't rule out the possibility of Jokiharju making the team from Day 1 even though it may be considered a longshot.
The Blackhawks certainly want to be careful not to rush his development because it takes longer for young defensemen to break in, especially players that are transitioning from a larger ice surface to a smaller one in North America, but it's no secret there's a desperate need for impact blue liners on the big club. The opportunity is there.
At the very least, Jokiharju could make it difficult on Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville when trimming the final roster down to 23 players. And that's a good problem to have.
"Henri had a fantastic year out west, and then in the spring he went over and played close to eight or nine games with the Finnish national team before the World Championships and I think he opened a lot of eyes with the way he played," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago in an upcoming Hawks Talk Podcast. "I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly think he gets a good look."
On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Adam Burish joins Pat Boyle to breakdown the Hawks’ recent four-game points streak, Corey Crawford's second star of the week honors and Brandon Saad’s best stretch of hockey since he returned to Chicago.
Burish talks about the criticism that Nick Schmaltz receives, the tweaks to the power play and whether he is impressed with how the team leaders have handled the coaching change.
Burish also shares his thoughts on Joel Quenneville attending Sunday night’s Bears game, Eddie Olczyk’s "One More Shift" and shares a couple off-ice stories about Patrick Kane.
:36 - What have you seen over this four-game points streak?
2:35 - Crow is second star of the week, are the Hawks relying too much on Crawford?
4:00 - Crow: no soft goals and rebound control
5:30 - Problems exiting zone cleanly
8:00 - Art of the hoister
9:40 - Best Saad has looked?
10:45 - Schmaltz inconsistencies
12:30 - New wrinkles on Power Play
16:30 - Sikura call up?
18:00 - Leaders handling coaching change
22:00 - What Q’s been up to
25:00 - Burish Beauty
26:00 - Edzo's One More Shift and Hockey Fight’s Cancer Night
28:30 - Kane’s 21st Birthday and off-ice 88 story
Listen to the full Hawks Talk Podcast right here:
Corey Crawford was named the NHL's second star of the week after going 2-0-1 with a 0.65 goals-against average, .980 save percentage and a shutout.
The Blackhawks netminder kicked things off by stopping all 28 shots faced in a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wedensday night. He then recorded 31 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night, and concluded the week with a stellar 39-save performance in a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Prior to Wednesday, the Blackhawks had been on an eight-game losing streak. In the last three games, the team recorded five out of a possible six points, and Crawford is a big reason why.
In 12 games this season, Crawford is 5-6-1 with a 2.44 goals against average, .922 save percentage, and a shutout.
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (five goals and eight points in three games) and San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski (five goals and six points in three games) were named the first and third stars, respectively.