2009-10: Ville Pokka skated for Karpat Oulu’s U18 and U16 clubs and was an assistant captain for Finland’s U16 team. He played 20 games for Karpat U18 and had 5 assists with 10 penalty minutes. After finishing third, Karpat lost to Espoo Blues in a five-game playoff series. Pokka played in all five games and was scoreless with 4 penalty minutes. In nine games with Karpat U16 he scored 5 goals with 9 assists. He played in two of the three games in the playoff series with Jokerit and had assists on two of Karpat’s four goals. In 16 games with Finland’s U16 team he had 4 goals with 11 assists.
2010-11: Pokka made his SM-Liiga debut, appearing in two games with Karpat, and skated in three games for Kiekko-Laser in Mestis (Finland’s second league). He was the leading scorer amongst defensemen for Karpat’s U20 team and represented Finland in international play at the 2011 U17 World Hockey Challenge and U18 World Junior Championship tournaments. Pokka was minus-two with 2 penalty minutes averaging 6 minutes of ice time in his brief SM-Liiga experience. He had three assists for Kiekko-Laser. In 32 games for Karpat’s junior team he scored 6 goals with 15 assists and was plus-four on a team that finished 12th in the 15-team SM U20 league. In one relegation game he had an assist. Pokka was part of Karpat’s bronze medal-winning U18 team and had 9 assists in 12 games (including nine playoff contests). He had 1 goal with 4 penalty minutes in five games for Finland at the U17 WHC and was scoreless and minus-two in six games as Finland finished fifth at the U18 WJC.
2011-12: Pokka skated in 35 games for Karpat in his first full season in Finland’s SM-Liiga and played for Finland at the 2012 U20 and U18 World Junior Championship tournaments. He had 3 assists and was minus-three with 12 penalty minutes for Karpat while averaging almost 19 minutes of ice time. After finishing seventh in the regular season, the Oulu club took second-place Pelicans to a decisive seventh game in the playoff quarterfinals. Pokka skated in all nine playoff games and was plus-one with 3 assists. One of two defensemen to play in both the U20 and U18 tournaments for Finland (2013 draft-eligible Rasmus Ristolainen was the other), Pokka played a huge role for Finland at the U20 tournament when highly-touted Olli Maatta was injured in the first game and could not play. In seven games Pokka scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was plus-three with 4 penalty minutes. In seven games at the U18 tournament, Pokka had 1 goal with 5 assists and was plus-two with 4 penalty minutes. In both tournaments, Finland lost to Canada in the bronze medal game. Pokka was invited to the NHL Draft Combine and ranked seventh amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Pokka skated in 47 games for Karpat in his second SM-Liiga season and represented Finland in the 2013 World Junior Championship. Pokka tied veteran Mikko Lehtonen with 6 goals to lead Karpat defensemen and also had 6 assists; finishing +2 with 8 penalty minutes. Karpat finished seventh and lost to Lukko Rauma in a three-game preliminary series. Pokka had 2 assists with an even plus/minus against Lukko. In six games at the WJC he scored 2 goals with 4 assists and was a team-leading +10 with 2 penalty minutes. Finland finished seventh after winning two games in the relegation round.
2013-14: Pokka won two championships during the season — skating for Liiga champion Karpat Oulu and playing for the gold medal-winning Finland U20 team at the 2014 World Juniors. Pokka was a workhorse for Karpat, averaging 21:50 minutes of ice time in 54 regular season games. He scored 6 goals with 21 assists and was plus-32 with 16 penalty minutes. Karpat rolled through the playoffs after finishing first in the regular season. Pokka scored 2 goals with 9 assists in 16 playoff games and was plus-7 with 10 penalty minutes. Finland’s defense corps was a big part of the gold medal effort as all contributed offensively. In seven games Pokka scored 1 goal with 3 assists and was plus-7 with 4 penalty minutes. Pokka signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Islanders in May 2014.
2014-15: Pokka attended training camp with the Islanders before being acquired by Chicago just prior to the start of the season as part of the multi-player trade that sent defenseman Nick Leddy to New York. He skated for Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford in his first pro season in North America. Pokka scored 5 of his 8 goals on the power play with 22 assists and had an even plus/minus with 16 penalty minutes in 68 regular season games. The IceHogs finished second in the Midwest Division and reached the second round in the AHL playoffs. Pokka was -4 with 3 assists and no penalties in eight playoff games.
Pokka projects to being the type of strong skating, persistent defender who can also contribute to the attack. Not an overly physical defenseman despite an ideal frame, he handles the puck well and is adept at generating pressure on the transition. He continues to develop his overall game in a very deep Blackhawks' organization and is getting closer to being NHL-ready.
Pokka attended his first training camp with Chicago before being assigned to AHL affiliate Rockford to star that the 2015-16 season. In his second year with the IceHogs, Pokka is expected to be the top offensive defenseman for Rockford with AHL veteran T.J. Brennan now in Toronto. The Blackhawks have a deep group of experienced defenseman in Chicago and Pokka may have to bide his time until either trades or injury present an opportunity. Long-term he has the potential to be an effective middle pairing puck mover.