Buffalo Sabres Top 25 Under 25, #16: Henri Jokiharju
Defenseman falls 10 spots from 2021 ranking.
The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
Ranking at 16 in this year’s Top 25 Under 25 is right-handed defenseman Henri Jokiharju. Drafted by the Blackhawks, Jokiharju joined the Sabres in 2019 and in the 2019-2020 shortened season played a career-high 69 games. So far in his 213 total games, he has tallied 10 goals, 44 assists. and 72 penalty minutes.
Even though his point total improved this past season at 19, his presence on the ice has become somewhat inconsistent. He does have shining moments physically as displayed above, but often finds himself in the shadow of better defensemen - specifically, Rasmus Dahlin, who improved greatly under the direction of Don Granato.
Still, the Finnish defender is only 23 years old (and a young 23 as his birthday was just in June), so he has time on his side for improvement.
When Rasmus Ristolainen was traded to the Flyers, Jokiharju found himself with increased ice time (averaging almost 22 minutes per game) facing tougher opponents for the latter part of the 2021-2022 season.
For Buffalo’s upcoming season, things may shake out differently as defensive pairings will inevitably get jostled around with the addition of Owen Power and Ilya Lyubushkin (a veteran who signed with the Sabres in July). Who will Jokiharju be paired with? Great question.
It is almost guaranteed at this point that Rasmus Dahlin and Mattias Samuelsson will covet the first pairing with Power and Lyubushkin as the second pairing, assuming Granato wants Power to be with someone more experienced. Perhaps Jacob Bryson will join Jokiharju, which honestly, as the third pair is pretty solid. Defense overall should be pretty fun to watch come October.