2018-19 Team: Jukurit
Date of Birth: Jan. 18, 2001
Place of Birth: Mikkeli, Finland
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 198 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
With 19 points through 56 games in the Liiga, Mikko Kokkonen doesn’t exactly jump off the page for the upcoming draft. But digging deeper, his point totals are actually very impressive for his age. Both the 19 points and 56 games played are modern-day Liiga records for an under-18 player. (From: “Wheeler: Final ranking for the 2019 NHL Draft’s top 100 prospects” –The Athletic – May 6, 2019).
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition
What stands out most for Kokkonen is his defensive play. While many defenders in the 2019 NHL Draft have shown their offensive talent in their respective leagues and internationally, the Finnish player has shown his ability to defend at a level beyond his years.
He gets his stick in the passing lanes, cuts down the angles on the opposing rush and has shown that he has great defensive awareness for his age. Combined with the strength he’s shown, Kokkonen looks to be a very promising defender with all of the right tools for the NHL.
While his defence is strong, he has shown offensive ability as well, although he tends to pick his spots. Not a bad thing for an 18-year-old. His movement on the offensive attack keeps the puck moving and opens up both passing and shooting lanes.
Kokkonen was a member of Team Finland at the U18 World Championship but didn’t really impress that much. He had one assist through five games but did well at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he had two goals and three points in four games.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Mikko Kokkonen – NHL Draft Projection
Kokkonen dropped in many rankings over the course of the year and his point totals and U18 world’s performance may keep him lower in the first round or early in the second. Still, he’s a promising defender that wouldn’t surprise many if he was chosen in the early 20s of the draft. Still, I see him as a first-round cusp player, likely going early in the second round.
“Kokkonen is a reliable two-way defenseman who does everything well but doesn’t excel in any aspect of the game. He isn’t a flashy player by any means but he gets the job done both offensively and defensively. He’s very mature for his age both physically and mentally which has allowed him to play a significant role at the pro level.” – Jokke Nevalainen, DobberProspects
“Kokkonen is a reliable two-way defenceman. He is solid all-round, but none of his qualities really stands out. He is a decent skater with pretty good defensive game for a player of his age. For sure, his positioning is sometimes off and he could have even more intensity in his game, but these aspects should improve when he matures. His offensive game has translated pretty well to the pro game and while he isn’t flashy, he plays a smart and solid passing game.” – FinnProspects.com
“Kokkonen is… one who has most put himself on my radar. He doesn’t play huge minutes for Jukurit (a shade under 16 minutes a night on their third pairing at evens) but he could handle more and has taken real strides to become a reliable option on his half of the ice and a productive option at the other… he’s an excellent outlet passer who is decisive and aggressive in the offensive zone. Kokkonen moves effortlessly in all four directions, closes gaps quickly, rarely gets exposed and is sneaky-strong in puck battles. He looks exactly like what you’d want a modern NHL defenceman to look like.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (From: “Wheeler: Preliminary ranking for the 2019 NHL draft’s top 62 prospects” – The Athletic – Nov 6, 2018).
- Defensive awareness
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Offensive drive
Kokkonen will spend another season in the Liiga, which will be great for his development because he’ll continue playing against men. He’ll then spend a year or two getting accustomed to the North American game before jumping to the NHL. Once there, he looks to be a top-four defender if everything continues progressing as it has.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6.5/10, Defence – 7/10
A member of numerous Team Finland junior teams, Kokkonen won a gold medal in 2017-18 at the U18 World Junior Championship, where he had three assists and was a plus-seven.