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Janne Kuokkanen is yet another top prospect, in this the golden age of Finnish Hockey. He was part of the team that won gold at the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, and played a big role in the win, with three goals and seven points in seven games in the tournament. He also put up six points in five games at last summer’s Ivan Hlinka Tournament, as well as five points in six games at the 2015 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. Coming up in Karpat‘s system, Kuokkanen spent the majority of the year playing for the U20 team in the Jr. A Sm-Liiga, where he had 22 goals and 53 points in 47 games. He did get called up for one game with the big club, and had an impressive debut, scoring two goals. He also got loaned out for one game in the Finnish second division, where he put up a goal and an assist for Hokki. Kuokkanen was drafted by AK Bars in the second round, 38th overall, of the 2015 KHL Draft.
Janne Kuokkanen Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #64
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born May 25 1998 — Oulunsalo, Finland
Height 6’00” — Weight 170 lbs [183 cm/77 kg]
Janne Kuokkanen is smart and efficient playmaker. He has very good stick handling ability, able to protect the puck and make quick moves in tight spaces. His vision and passing skill is excellent. He slows the play down and finds openings that most other players do not see, and is able to put a pass through a tight opening, or make a saucer pass that lands on a teammates tape. Kuokkanen has very good anticipation and hockey sense as he seems to see openings before they are there. His shot could stand to be harder, but is very accurate and he possesses a very quick release. Kuokkanen seems to defer to passing though and could stand to use his shot more often. He could also seem to get more involved in the dirty areas of the ice, as Kuokkanen prefers to play more of a perimeter game at this point in his career. He could stand to bulk up in order to be better in tight to the net, and in battles along the boards.
Kuokkanen is a good skater. While he is not known as a speedster, he keeps up with the play and it can not be said that he is a slow skater either. He does have excellent agility and edge work. Kuokkanen is extremely shifty and is able to avoid defenders and get around them in one-on-one situations. He is also able to move quickly to change angles and open up passing lanes. Kuokkanen can work on adding strength, specifically in his lower body in order to improve his balance, and not be pushed off the puck as easily.
Kuokkanen shows good defensive instincts, with solid positioning and a good stick. He reads the play well, and creates turnovers with good anticipation and by keeping attackers in front of him. Once he does create that turnover, he is quick to start the transition game. Kuokkanen is also very good in the face-off circle. Again, he could stand to be stronger and more physical, as he can get pushed around by bigger, more physical forwards.
Janne Kuokkanen has the ability and potential to be a top nine centre in the NHL. However, he will face some challenges going forward. He will need to add some muscle and become more involved physically. At this point there is some questions about how his game will translate to the smaller, North American sized ice surface. Kuokkanen’s game is stylistically similar to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent.
The following is a compilation of Janne Kuokkanen highlights, assembled from youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #65 prospect on our NHL Draft Board.