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2018 NHL Entry Draft Prospect Profile: Dominik Bokk

Bokk is considered the next big German talent. Though not hyped as a top 13 pick, he’s got top-13 skills.

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Name: Dominik Bokk

Team: Vaxjo Lakers HC J20 (SuperElit)

Stats: 14 goals, 27 assists, 41 points, 12 PIM, +19 plus-minus rating

Position: Right wing

NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 12th (European Skaters)

NHL Comparable Player: Ondrej Palat

Ever seen Vasyl Lomachenko in the ring? You should. Remember that time Jet Li fought those blonde twins in Kiss of the Dragon? One of the most powerful weapons a fighter has in their arsenal is not a punch, but a feint.

Illusions are weapons unto themselves. Hockey players have something similar at their disposal — puck handling. In the absence of speed, a quick release, or an accurate shot, players can handle the puck to feint a shot, pass, or harness their coordination into better positioning.

Bokk is as good as anyone in this draft when it comes to puck handling.

You can probably see how easily a typical player might have messed up this play. Either they could have backed away giving the defender time to break up the play, or moved toward the pass only to get caught between two defenders. Thanks to Bokk’s hands, he’s able to pull the puck back in a way that gives him a ton of space to either shoot, pass, or reset. Bokk does this with such quickness that not only is he able to avoid the poke check directly behind him, but the entire defense in front of him constricts, and immediately breaks down.

Like any great puck handler, Bokk can do this at full tilt too.

Even though this is an awful move by the left defenseman, it’s a good example of how well Bokk protects the puck. Even with three players crowding him, he eventually separates from all three with superior puck protection skills. This is the theme in any footage you watch of him.

Not only is he responsible for the zone entry, but he gets the shot off, sniffs around the back of the net, and immediately finds an open defenseman to set up a quality scoring chance. He’s a playmaker above all else. I’ll just let the clip below speak for itself:

Gif by Corey Pronman

In a controversial take, Corey Pronman has him ranked at No. 8, gushing over his raw talent:

Bokk’s pure puck skill is up there with the very best in the draft class. He dances with the puck on his stick and can make flashy dekes seem routine. His hands also translate to making him one of the best pick pockets (of pucks) I’ve seen at his age. He’s a good playmaker who looks to makes plays to his teammates and has the patience and skill to hold the puck and let an option develop.

Bokk’s hands are not just about creating space for his teammates, but setting up his release. Even though he didn’t lead his league in scoring, his 1.4 points per game average (involved in 34 percent of his team’s goals, which is one of the better percentages among draft eligible players) was tops in the SuperElit — enough to earn him 15 games in the SHL.

His shot is fairly above average in my view. He’s able to paralyze goaltenders with his feints and vision, and when he does chamber the puck, he can snap it quick and heavily (as much as I hate comparisons, he’s like Jason Spezza in this regard; just because he’s a pass-first forward doesn’t mean he can’t shoot).

This all sounds great. Dallas needs a top six playmaking forward. What’s the catch? I’ll let Scott Wheeler — who has him ranked No. 28 — take over from here:

Still, while he’s an explosive threat, the rest of his game lacks: He nearly never engages physically without the puck and tends to reach with his stick instead; he coasts back in transition; he doesn’t fully pursue loose pucks; and he’s easily frustrated with his teammates. If he can sort those things out, he’s got second-line NHL upside.

“Easily frustrated” is weird phrasing. It almost makes Bokk sound like something of a hot head, which he is definitely not. It’s true Bokk is not a defensive forward, but that’s not his game either.

As something of a personal opinion, I’ll never understand this part of scouting analysis. Bokk projects to be a scoring winger. How many defensemen without a lot of points are criticized for not activating? A player is either optimized for their role or they’re not. If a team has a lot of scorers, then Bokk isn’t your man. You’ll want someone like Joel Farabee or Barrett Hayton. But if you want someone with top six potential who can create chances for your scoring lines, then Bokk is your man.

Now the question is whether he’s a good pick at No. 13.

Most scouting services have Bokk ranked in the 20’s and above. There’s a reason for that and it’s not because nobody knows what he’s capable of. It’s that this is a deep draft and Bokk is a winger. A good center will simply have more value than a talented winger, and likewise for a good defenseman. That’s especially true in this draft where the top is heavy on good blueliners, and the bottom is heavy with more blueliners and a smattering of forwards. This naturally pushes Bokk down. A reach is not the same as a bad pick. Just try to redoing the last four drafts if you’re bored and want that point proven for yourself.

The other point of contention is that Bokk’s numbers aren’t historic, or anything truly special. For a so-called “dynamic top six winger”, why isn’t he producing like one? While true, I think Eeli Tolvanen is a dramatic, but fitting proxy. His numbers weren’t dynamite, but everything about his raw talent and shot volume screamed elite. Sure enough, that’s exactly the prospect Tolvanen has become.

As always, a potential Bokk pick depends on who’s there at No. 13. On its own, I like Bokk more than even some of the players who could potentially fall. Dallas simply doesn’t have enough forwards who can actively dangle to create chances, and space for teammates. It’s nice to have forwards who can play “two-way”, but if you can play one way better than everyone else, what does it matter? Forwards need to score, not block shots. That’s not an excuse to be irresponsible in your own zone, but it shouldn’t be the reason to pass up elite offensive talent. In a Stars system where they’re lacking this type of offense, Bokk’s potential presence is even more pronounced.

Bokk is not a player who fundamentally misunderstands certain aspects of hockey. In fact, he plays on Vaxjo’s PK — sometimes brilliantly so.

He’ll get experience in the SHL next season in a pro environment. And he’ll get better. Which is what makes Bokk so tantalizing. And why he’s being mentioned in the same breath as another talented German. Bokk is definitely not there (nor are their games similar), but the talent is.