Janne Kuokkanen 2016-17 season capsule
After being drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft, Janne Kuokkanen made the jump from Finland where he played in 2015-16 to North America. Kuokkanen is a natural center with some versatility to play wing. Thus far, he has 19 goals and 30 assists in 40 games in his first season in the OHL and also took a break to play for Finland in the world juniors tourney.
Mid-season thoughts on Janne Kuokkanen from Brendan Ross from TheScout.ca
Brendan Ross (Twitter=@RossyYoungblood) currently serves as the Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca (Twitter=@TheS
Canes and Coffee: What were your first impressions of Janne Kuokkanen after seeing him in his first few games of OHL action with the London Knights this fall?
Brendan Ross: I was fortunate to catch Kuokkanen in some pre-season contests and immediately felt that he’d come in and challenge for the OHL scoring lead. While my expectations have been pulled back now, Kuokkenen has been very impressive in his first season with the London Knights. He is a strong two-way player who has been utilized in all situations. A competitive forward, who thinks the game well and adjusts well depending on the style of game – operating with more skill when the game opens up and tightening up his defensive play when the game gets close.
Canes and Coffee: What is Janne Kuokkanen’s current role on the London Knights?
Brendan Ross: The London Knights’ coaching staff of Dale Hunter and company have always done a lot of line juggling so Kuokkanen has lined up on several different lines. With the Knights acquiring several big name forwards (Tampa Bay prospect Mitchell Stephens and Dante Salituro) at the trade deadline, the line-ups have been even more fluid in recent months. Due to his attention to detail, strong two-way instincts and above-average skill, Kuokkanen has received prime minutes in all situations. Most recently, at regular strength he’s lined up on the left side with Robert Thomas and Owen MacDonald but has also seen time next to Buffalo Sabres prospect Cliff Pu.
Canes and Coffee: Through just over half of the 2016-17 season, how would you summarize and describe Janne Kuokkanen’s play, accomplishments and adjustment to North American hockey and the OHL?
Brendan Ross: Kuokkanen’s play has been excellent through the first half of the season, showing little adjustment needed – likely due to the fact that he thinks the game so well and already plays a North American style of game. He’s been among the Knights leading scorers with 49 points through 39 games – including 19 goals. He’s been a contributor on the power play with 6 goals and 13 points and has shown a knack for creating off the rush as well as getting his nose dirty below the hashmarks. With the London Knights defending their 2016 CHL Memorial Cup Championship, look for Kuokkanen to receive big game experience down the stretch of a competitive Western Conference OHL playoff push.
Canes and Coffee: What jumps out about Kuokkanen’s skill set that projects to be NHL caliber? What areas do you see for improvement at this early stage of his development?
Brendan Ross: Kuokkanen’s ability to play in all three zones and in all situations will surely translate very well to the next level of competition. He will likely need to spend some time in the American Hockey League to round out his game for a season but all signs point to a fairly quick climb to the NHL level. He manages risk very well in possession while still playing an up-tempo game needed to create offensive chances. He can play a strong, brash game when needed and owns the touch and finishing ability to capitalize on skilled plays as well. Truthfully, there isn’t a glaring weakness in Kuokkanen’s game, however, there is room to add more creativity and finesse in his game to take his game to the next level. With that said, his style of game doesn’t project as a pure finesse player and draws on his intelligent, competitive approach moreso to leave his impact each game.
More on Janne Kuokkanen and also MIDTERMS on Jake Bean, David Cotton and Matt Filipe
Previous coverage on Janne Kuokkanen includes:
If you missed them and want to catch up, you can find the first 3 entries in the ‘Midterms’ series here: