Dallas Stars Player Grades: Jyrki Jokipakka
He has one of the best names in hockey.,..oh, and he's developing into a pretty solid player on the ice, too.
Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the organization) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
From start to finish, it was quite an interesting ride this season for Dallas Stars rookie defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka.
The 23-year-old Finland native was tremdendous in training camp, bounced up and down from the AHL, played on the top defensive pair, played on the bottom defensive pair, was healthy scratched, was occasionally invisible in a good way, was occasionally invisible in a bad way, and finished the season as a regular, steady fixture on the Stars' blueline.
Over the course of a season where Dallas' dfensive group was in a disorganized state of disarray more often than it stood on stable ground, Jokipakka was bounced around like a rag doll and used in a variety of different ways.
What's important, however, is that he mostly held his own throughout it all.
Overall, Jokipakka wound up playing 51 games in Dallas this season, registering zero goals and 10 assists while averaging 16:30 of ice time per night. He also dressed for the AHL's Texas Stars for 19 games, scoring five points for them.
Those numbers aren't flashy, but for a rookie playing in only his second season in North America that's really not bad at all.
When taking a look at Jokipakka's advanced stats things get a little more interesting. His CorsiFor percentage finished at 49.8%, a number that's respectable on it's own, but still ranks 6th among Stars blueliners.
That being said, that number need to be broken down a little more. Jokipakka spent the overwhelming majority of his even-strength ice time with Trevor Daley (314 minutes) on the second and third pairs, and was only a 46.0 CF% player in that time. However, he also spent some time on the team's top pair with Alex Goligoski (120 minutes) and put up much better numbers there: 54.1 CF%. Considering Daley dropped the possession stats of nearly everyone that he played with this season it therefore becomes safe to assume that Jokipakka is better at puck control than what an initial glance at the metrics indicates.
Now, Jokipakka's debut season certainly wasn't without its hiccups. Head coach Lindy Ruff had a tendency to shelter his stable of young defensemen this year, for obvious reasons, and Jokipakka was no exception. He played the easiest competition of any Stars defender, and had the second fewest defensive zone starts.
In spite of this, there were many moments, especially early on in the season, where the young defender wound up on the wrong side of the puck, either by making an ill-advised pass, losing a puck battle that he should have won, or missing his own-zone coverage.
But, hey, what more could you really expect out a rookie defender, right?
He was predictably shaky at first, but Jokipakka became more and more reliable for the Stars as the season wore on. He doesn't have the offensive flair of John Klingberg, or the ability to physically dominate players like Patrik Nemeth, but he brings a steady, calming presence that's only going to get better over time.
How do you think that Jokipakka did this season?
Vote now: Rate Jokipakka on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.
How would you grade Jyrki Jokipakka's season?