The Buffalo Sabres have announced the signing of RFA defenceman Henri Jokiharju to a three-year, $7.5 million contract. The deal will have an AAV of $2.5 million and will carry him through the 2023-24 season.
Three more years of Joki! 👊
We’ve signed Henri Jokiharju to a three-year contract with an AAV of $2.5 million.
Details: https://t.co/AultZAqBbo pic.twitter.com/NHaAt25xfJ
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 2, 2021
Sabres Re-Sign Henri Jokiharju
Jokiharju has just completed his third season in the NHL. So far he has played one as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks and two with the Buffalo Sabres. In 153 NHL games, he scored seven goals and 28 assists for 35 points. He was the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Blackhawks. In 2019, Jokiharju was traded in a one-for-one deal to the Sabres for Alexander Nylander. During the 2020-21 season, Jokiharju scored three goals and five assists for eight points in 46 games with a -11 rating. He spent the year playing on the first defensive pairing on an abysmal Sabres team. Additionally, Jokiharju had a points-per-60 rate of 0.57, a 45.6% Corsi and 45.7% Fenwick last year in all situations.
What To Expect
Many will question whether Jokiharju is worthy of being a top-pair defenceman, which is currently where he is slotting in on the depth chart. The right-handed defenceman will play alongside Rasmus Dahlin in a weak Sabres defensive core. Although, the 22-year old is still relatively young, and being put in the position that he is currently in may hurt his development. Buffalo will most likely be at the basement of the NHL, so Jokiharju will be on the ice for a lot of goals against.
However, at his best, Jokiharju could be an offensive defenceman who could be relied upon to quarterback a power play. He can also set others up using his solid passing skills. With defencemen such as Owen Power on the rise, Jokiharju can play crucial top-four minutes. He can also serve as the quarterback on the second power-play unit when needed. Hopefully, for Jokiharju’s sake, he can put up solid offensive and advanced analytic numbers despite the tough season ahead of him.