Mikko Kokkonen dreams of being a high draft pick
Defenseman Mikko Kokkonen has been a regular in prospect talks around Finland for a few years now. He got his first cup of coffee in Liiga two years ago and played in 12 games last season, but it was not until this fall when he became a regular in the Jukurit squad.
Kokkonen leads all rookie defensemen in points with 5 assists in 11 games and has even gotten some powerplay time in Jukurit’s second squad.
– I’ve gotten more and more powerplay time recently when [Aleksi] Salonen has been injured. Of course it always feels good to get bigger role, it’s my goal after all, Kokkonen explains.
Miro Heiskanen’s 10 points (5G, 5A) two years ago were the most by a draft eligible D-man in Finnish league in 30 years. Kokkonen has already put up half of that amount.
– To be honest, I haven’t really thought about the points. My goal this season was to get a permanent roster spot and to just play well. Points are of course bonus on top of that.
Kokkonen is draft eligible next summer and was ranked 4th in FinnProspects’ latest rankings about a week ago. He acknowledges the importance of this season.
– I trained hard the whole summer, and it gave – and gives – a little extra boost for the practices and games to know that this is the draft season. It has always been a big dream for me to be a high draft pick.
Kokkonen is known as a all-round two-way defenceman. There is one thing though, that he concentrates on in his development.
– I’ve focused mainly on my skating, I want it to be one of my biggest strengths. Both to make it smoother and also faster of course.
Kokkonen has a good chance to showcase his abilities in the big stage after Christmas when the World Juniors are played in Canada.
– I’ve had a good start for the season, so the World Juniors are in my mind as well. I hope I get a chance to show what I can bring to the team there too.