The Chicago Blackhawks have inked one of their top prospects, signing Henri Jokiharju to his three-year entry-level contract. Jokiharju played this season in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, while also suiting up for Finland at the World Junior Championship.
Jokiharju, 18, exploded for Portland this season, recording 71 points in 63 games and generally being one of the best defensemen in the league. Named a second-team WHL All-Star, Jokiharju would likely be in the mix for Defenseman of the Year should he return to Portland next season. That isn’t guaranteed though, as some believe he could make an impact with the Blackhawks, or perhaps return to Finland to continue his development at a higher level.
Regardless of where he plays next season, the Blackhawks are extremely excited about his early development. Selected 29th-overall in 2017, he is quickly showing he may have been a steal that late in the round. If he plays in junior or Europe next season, his contract will slide and not come into effect until 2019-20. He could even play up to nine games with the Blackhawks without burning a year.