2008 prospects: Justin Jokinen

By DJ Powers

Position: Right Wing
2007-08 Team: Cloquet-Esko-Carlton (CEC)
Shoots: Right
Ht/Wt: 6’3/182 lbs.
DOB: 11/25/89

Standing at 6’3, it’s difficult to miss Justin Jokinen out on the ice, but his size isn’t the only thing that has had many in the scouting community taking notice. His skill set and potential have as well.

2007-08 season

Jokinen has just completed his senior season at Cloquet-Esko-Carlton, where he served as one of the team captains, leading the Lumberjacks to their first Section 7AA Championship since 2002 and a berth in the Minnesota state high school tournament. His 43 points (22 goals, 21 assists) led CEC in scoring and ranked fourth in Section 7AA overall scoring. Jokinen garnered numerous accolades that included being selected to the CCM All-Star game, earning an honorable mention to the AP All-State Team and being named a finalist for the 2008 Mr. Hockey Award. Most recently, he was selected to participate in the 24th annual Chicago Showcase.

Jokinen was heavily recruited by a number of WCHA schools including the University of Minnesota-Duluth, University of Wisconsin and St. Cloud State University, along with Mercyhurst College of Atlantic Hockey before making his decision to attend Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“Well, I talked to the coaches and they seemed really nice,” said Jokinen of the decision. “They told me a lot about the type of hockey that they play and the style that they play. Everything that they told me is everything that I was looking for. And to be going straight there is just great. I’m really excited and it should be a lot of fun.”

Jokinen will suit up for the Mavericks beginning this fall.

Talent Analysis

Jokinen is tall, rangy winger blessed with superb puck skills who moves extremely well. He looks equally as comfortable creating and setting up plays as finishing them. Jokinen displays great poise and patience with the puck. And his decision-making is also quite good.

He possesses a hard shot with a tremendous release. But what sets Jokinen apart from many high school players is the accuracy of his shots. He gets them to the net and picks his spots remarkably well.

One of Jokinen’s greatest attributes is his skating — a wonderful combination of quickness, speed and fluidness. As he continues to grow into his large frame, he’ll also add more power to it. And it is an area that he continually works to improve both on and off the ice.

“I focused a lot on working on my legs to become faster and stronger on the lower part of my body,” Jokinen said. “Last summer, I skated in a lot of summer leagues. I did a lot of on-ice conditioning and doing stop-and-go stuff. I also did a lot of running like jogging and short sprints. But as much as I could, I worked out on my off days too.”

Jokinen also possesses great hockey instincts and on-ice vision. He uses his size and long reach to his advantage. When given the opportunity, he can utilize his time and space quite effectively. Jokinen also enjoys the being involved in the physical side of the game. He doesn’t shy away from playing the body and can deliver some solid checks that will only get better with added size and strength.

In addition to his physical development, Jokinen will also need to continue to improve the defensive side of his game to be successful at both the collegiate and pro levels.

So how does Jokinen describe himself?

“Well, I’m big obviously, strong and a fast skater. I try to get the job done when I can.”

The winger lists Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin as his favorite NHL player and one whose style he tries to pattern his after.

“I think my style is similar to his like scoring goals, bring it to the net and shooting a lot,” said Jokinen.

While Jokinen’s natural position is right wing, he actually played center this season. But playing center is not completely new to the senior winger since he played there in his freshman year. As CEC head coach Dave Esse explained, Jokinen was moved to center primarily out of necessity.

“Because of the lack of skill on our team, we had Justin playing center this year,” he said. “I think it probably took a couple of weeks to adjust, but he knew coming into this year that we’re probably going to have to use him at center. This past summer, we worked out four days a week for six weeks and he took a lot of draws and really got acclimated to the center position. Justin is one of those kids that’s really smart and picks up on things very quickly. If you tell him something, he’s very good at listening, learning and adapting.”

A characteristic that served Jokinen exceedingly well at CEC this year was his strong leadership and reliability. He shouldered much of his team’s offensive and even some of the defensive responsibilities, and did so by example. Jokinen has the ability to make those around him better and is a young man who prefers to let his actions and skills speak for him.

With being a highly-regarded, draft-eligible player comes all of the sometimes overwhelming attention from both the media and the scouting community. The low-key Jokinen has taken it all in stride and tries to keep it in perspective, but admits it can be difficult at times.

“It’s fun knowing that everybody is taking an interest in me. It just makes me feel real good, but yeah, it can be overwhelming sometimes.”

Esse isn’t surprised at all by the attention that Jokinen has received, and he credits part of his star player’s development and success to his staff.

“I think Justin has kind of developed under the radar. Then all of a sudden, wow! This kid is a good player,” said Esse. “My assistant coaches are fantastic and have really worked hard to make Justin and the rest of these guys here better. I’d say maybe 15 NHL teams have talked to me about Justin. He is just a kid that has worked at it. Justin has really grown and is just unbelievably dedicated. He’s one of the top skill kids that I’ve ever coached and I’ve coached for the last 18 years in high school here. I’d say that the biggest thing is that Justin needs to get better at finishing touches around the net and obviously get stronger.

“I’ve had a lot of kids that have had the potential to make it to the NHL and I think Justin is one of those kids right now.”

Outlook for the draft

Justin Jokinen is ranked 54th on Central Scouting’s final rankings.