Draft Pick Profile: Mikael Hakkarainen


Upon the completion of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, The Rink will take a look at the players chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks on day two of the draft.

Next is the Blackhawks’ fifth round choice, center Mikael Hakkarainen.

Mikael Hakkarainen
2017–18 Team: Muskegon (USHL)
Date of Birth: January 26, 1998
Place of Birth: Helsinki, Finland
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 193 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: C

NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 179
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: Not ranked

NHL Comparable: Frans Nielsen

Mikkael Hakkarainen is an overage center who spent this season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the United States Hockey League. As a 20 year old, Hakkarainen used his skill set to control play in many areas of the game.

Hakkarainen is a good skater with nice speed and acceleration. He has good hustle and likes being around the puck. His agility allows him to weave across the ice with the puck and make quick directional changes. Hakkarainen displays his effort through his skating. He seems to always be moving, even through checking and pressure along the boards.

Hakkarainen possesses a good shot marked by its accuracy and quick release. His wrist shot and snapshot are definitely his best shots, and he could probably stand to use them more often.

Hakkarainen is a gifted playmaker with good vision and hands. He is able to make nice passes without forcing it. Hakkarainen is a creative and unselfish player.

Hakkarainen is reliable in all three zones, as he has good hockey smarts and awareness. He is able to shut down the opposition in his own end and can transition the play to offense well with his good passing skills. Hakkarainen is also excellent at taking face offs.

Despite having some concussion issues at the beginning of the season, Hakkarainen returned mid-season and lit it up offensively for Muskegon, registering 46 points in 36 games this season. By the end of the season, Hakkarainen had established himself as a dominant force in the USHL.

Overall, Hakkarainen was a late-bloomer and is still a bit of a project, but he has some tools needed to be a reliable NHL player, albeit with limited long-term upside.

Implications for the Blackhawks
Hakkarainen adds some depth to the Blackhawks’ lacking center prospect pool. While he has been a successful player at the USHL level, the offensive production would likely not translate to the NHL. However, thanks to Hakkarainen’s sound all-around game, he could develop into a reliable bottom-six player for the Hawks in the future. His ability at the dot is also something the Blackhawks are lacking.

Hakkarainen is committed to attend Providence College in the fall, where he will likely spend at least two or three years before turning pro, where he would then likely spend a year or two developing in Rockford. If Hakkarainen makes the jump to the NHL, it likely would not be until at least 2021–22 or 2022–23.

If he makes it to the NHL, Hakkarainen would slot in as a bottom-six skater. He has proven to be good defensively and has enough playmaking ability to contribute some offensively. Despite posting good offensive numbers this season in the USHL, Hakkarainen will likely not be relied upon as a scorer at the NHL level, but could be a player capable of being a low-end two-way center.

What others are saying
“Hakkarainen was extremely solid in this game. He was a constant threat playing really quick and effective passing game creating many scoring opportunities and having some himself. He read the play extremely well being in the right place at the right time. The forward is a good stick-handler but he doesn’t make unnecessary dangles. His speed, agility and acceleration were impressive for this level of play. Even though he didn’t show much grit, he seemed physically more mature than most of the other players. He took care of his defensive responsibilities well too.”
Asko Huuki/Finn Prospects

“I think what attracted us to him was, when you went and saw him play, he got on the scoresheet but even if he wasn’t on the scoresheet you noticed him play. He played hard. 200-foot.”
Mark Kelley/Chicago Blackhawks VP of Amateur Scouting

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