2006 eligible Jesse Joensuu has NHL size

By Simon Richard

2005 Prospects: Alex Bourret

Finnish winger Jesse Joensuu was
born on October 5, 1987, making the 6’4 and 194-pound forward three days
younger than the American Phil Kessel and
three months older than the Czech Michael Frolik.

Joensuu joined Frolik and Kessel as the three
high touted 2006 NHL Entry Draft eligibles present at
the 2005 World Junior Championships.

With one point (a goal), Joensuu was not as
visible as the other two in this tournament. Nevertheless, apart the game
against the Slovaks, he played a regular shift for the Finnish team.

The youngest player in the SM League

currently plays for Assat Pori
in the SM League in Finland.
He is the youngest player of that first division league. In 2002, Joensuu was the MVP of the Pohjola
Selection Camp. He was the City of Pori Future Sports Star in 2003.
Among other awards, he was also the Assat Pori Junior Player of the Year 2002 and 2003.

After the game against Slovakia
in Thief River Falls
on December 27, he told Hockey’s Future how great the feeling was to play
in this tournament.

“I didn’t have a lot of ice time tonight. Aki Seitsonen and I are sharing the role of the alternate
winger. My own performance has not been so good, and as good as my coach
expected,” he commented.

While informed he was one of the main three 2006 eligible in this
tournament, Joensuu said “It is a great thing to
know, but I have to play better to really be one of those guys.”

“He is a big 1987 born player,” said the Finn coach Patri Matikainen after that game,
adding that Joensuu has a good future for both the
Finn national junior team and for the NHL.

“He can play an offensive game, he is
strong with the puck and go to the net. However, he has to improve his
defensive game to be a great hockey player,” commented Matikainen.

A key role in a Sweden-Finland game

Against Sweden on
December 29th in Thief
River Falls
, Minn.
the Finnish coach placed Joensuu on the first line
along with Petteri Nokelainen
and Lauri Tukonen.
For those who know the ancestral rivalry of the Finnish and Sweden hockey
teams and the importance of that game, it shows that a lot of confidence was placed
by the Finnish coach on Joensuu.

Overall, he played an excellent game that afternoon. He kept to his man
in the defensive zone and he played physically. In the third period, while his
team trailed 4-2, Joenssu scored a power play goal en
route to a Finnish 5-4 win. The Finns scored four unanswered goals in the third
period to win that game.

“I can’t find words to describe the game and the feeling I
have now, it is amazing,” said Joensuu after the

“There were a lot of emotions on the ice,
we fight hard to come back from behind.”

Joensuu was very
pleased for having scored his first ever goal in a WJC. “Every Finnish
1987-born hockey player would love to be here, it is a great place to be and
you know, this is a big thing in our country to beat Sweden,” declared Joensuu.

The young Finn player said that the last period of that game offered him
the most emotions he ever felt up to now in his entire life.

Looking ahead

In the last game played by the Finn in the tournament, the deciding game
for the fifth place overall against Sweden, though he wasn’t on
the first line, the Finn coach showed again a lot of confidence in him.

He was on the ice with less than two minutes to play in the game while Finland was
trailing by a goal. The Finns finally made the score even and the game went in
overtime. Joensuu enjoyed again a dramatic victory
over Sweden
with a goal scored by Janne Kolehmainen
with 1:37 played in OT. 

Joensuu may not
have the pure scoring talent and speed of the American Kessel.
He may also does not have yet the all-around skills of
the Czech Frolik.

Nevertheless, he has a lot of qualities. He is only 17 and has a lot of
time to develop and of those three, he is the one with
the most size. And in the NHL, like it or not, size does matter. 


Richard is the author of La Serie du
siecle, Septembre 1972, a
book about the Summit
Series published in 2002.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the
editorial staff.