NHL Draft Prospect Profile #43: Ville Pokka
Drafted 34th Overall by the New York Islanders
Sometimes all a young player needs is the opportunity to showcase his skills to a wide audience. This year Ville Pokka received this golden opportunity and has used it to his full advantage to show his potential to NHL scouts. In the first game of this year’s World Junior Championships, Finnish Defenceman Olli Maatta was hit hard and suffered a concussion. He would be out for the tournament. Into the gaping hole on the Finnish defence stepped the largely unknown Ville Pokka. His performance in place of Maatta opened the eyes of many a scout and started a rise up draft boards. A similar good showing for Finland at the Spring IIHF Under 18 World Championships helped to confirm that Pokka was more than just a flash in the pan. Domestically Pokka played the majority of the season for Karpat of the Finnish Sm-Lilga or Elite League.
Born Jun 3 1994 — Tornio, Finland
Height 6.00 — Weight 195 — Shoots Right
Pokka proved to be a solid defender at the World Juniors where he stepped in seemlessly to Maatta’s spot on Finland’s top defensive pair. He is very difficult to beat off the rush as he uses excellent positioning and good quickness to always keep the forward in front of him. He has a quick stick and is good at pokechecking opponents. Pokka has shown that he can be physical and throw a hard hit if he catches a forward in a vulnerable position. He is also willing to battle hard in the corners and in front of the net, however Pokka is sometimes overwhelmed by a big, physical forward.
Offensively Pokka plays a simple, but very effective game. He has great vision and hockey IQ which help him to quarterback the powerplay. A very good passer, Pokka can make effective tape to tape passes to teammates both from the blue line in the offensive zone and in his own zone to start the breakout. Pokka’s slapshot needs work, as it lacks both power and accuracy, however he does possess a good wrist shot, and can often be seen sneaking in from the point on the PP in an attempt to recieve a pass and unleash it.
Pokka is a decent skater, but not great. His top end speed is good, and his balance is also adequate. He does however need to work on his pivots, agility and changes of direction before he will be ready for the next level.
Pokka can be an effective 2nd pairing defender in the NHL. There are some aspects of his game that need work before he reaches the pros, but the potential is certainly there. We believe his high end potential would be to become a defenceman similar to Matt Carle of the Philadelphia Flyers.
… and thats the Last Word.