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Joni Ikonen grew up playing for his hometown team, the Espoo Blues, in their academy. However, at the age of 16, he decided to move to Sweden to further his hockey career, and has spent the last two seasons with Frolunda. Ikonen played 10 games for the big club this year, but struggled. He didn’t get a lot of ice time, but even when he did get used, he was unable to generate any points. This is not that unusual for a 17-year-old playing in a men’s league, it just indicates he needs more development. He was very good in the under 20 league with 41 points in 40 games.
Joni Ikonen represented Finland several times over the last several years. He scored four goals and eight points at this year’s Under 18 World Championships, helping the Finns to silver. Ikonen also played at the Five Nations, Ivan Hlinka tournament, and World Under 17 Hockey Challenge over the last several years. He has been very good at the international level.
Joni Ikonen Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #42
Centre — shoots Right
Born April 14th, 1999 — Espoo, Finland
Height 5’10” — Weight 168 lbs [177 cm / 76 kg]
Ikonen is a very good skater. His top-end speed is very good, but not quite at the elite level. His first step quickness and acceleration is outstanding though. He also has very good balance and edge work. Ikonen is very difficult to defend, one-on-one. He can quickly change directions to avoid a defender, and once he gets a step on his man, he is gone. He also has very good lower body strength. This leads to excellent balance, and makes Ikonen tough to knock off the puck. He uses a wide stride when carrying the puck, helping him to protect it.
Ikonen pairs his skating with top notch offensive skill. The ability to stick handle in tight spaces and weave through traffic adds to the difficulties that defenders have with him. He has a non-stop motor, chasing down loose pucks as well as getting in quickly on the forecheck. Despite his size, he is not afraid to play physical, or get to the dirty areas of the ice. Ikonen can create offence both through his skill and his relentless work ethic. He has the vision and creativity to set up teammates and make plays. If defenses back off too far on him on the rush, he can pull up, slow the play down, and make a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate.
Ikonen is also dangerous as a goal scorer. In fact he is more of a shoot-first type of player when given the opportunity to shoot or pass. He has an heavy and accurate wrist shot, and a quick release. He also shows the quick hands to pounce on rebounds in front of the net, and to beat goaltenders in close. Throw in good hand-eye co-ordination and he can produce offense in a multitude of ways. The question here is if that game will translate to upper levels. Lack of size and strength is one of the reasons that he did not produce when facing men in the SHL and Champions Hockey League this year. It is an area that must be improved for him to take the next step.
Ikonen shows his work ethic and his relentless puck pursuit in all three zones. He works hard to chase down attackers, and to support the defence on the backcheck. However, he could use some work on his positioning. The biggest concern here is the size though. He has troubles containing bigger opponents who are working the cycle game.
Projection and Comparison
Joni Ikonen has the potential to be a top six NHL forward. He will need to improve his strength, as well as his defensive game. He may need to move to the wing, in order to take best advantage of strengths while minimizing his weaknesses. Ikonen could be a centre if his development goes well, but moving to right wing is a good back-up plan here. In terms of a stylistic comparison, his game is reminiscent of Victor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators.
The following is a compilation of videos, assembled from Youtube.
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Main Photo via Youtube.