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2022 NHL Draft prospect profile: Joakim Kemell’s shot will get him to the NHL

The solid play in the other two zones will help keep him in the world’s top league.

Austria v Finland: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Joakim Kemell is a hard-working winger, one who puts in the effort in his own zone to win puck battles, using the 176 pounds attached to his 5’9” frame to land a few hits and disrupt the opposition’s movements. He’s a smart forechecker as well, picking his spots to go after a defenceman, trying to win possession for his team. Above-average skating gives him good transition ability, with decent passing skills to keep the puck moving up ice.

He also has one of the best shots in this year’s draft class.

Birthplace: Jyväskylän mlk, Finland
Date of birth: April 27, 2004
Shoots: Right
Position: Right Wing
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 176 lbs.
Team: JYP (Liiga)

His wrist shot is a strong one that works from anywhere in the offensive zone. Goaltenders are given little time to react to even his long-range releases, and those netminders are really tested if it’s launched from in close. His one-timer is even more unstoppable, as he generates a great deal of power with a bit of time to load up.

It proved to be an effective power-play tool for Liiga’s JYP this season where Kemell played the entire 2021-22 campaign, competing a step above his age group for a third consecutive year. His 15 goals in 39 games played tied for third on the team, though his rate of 0.38 goals per game was first on the club. That production earned him the league’s Rookie of the Year award.

His season started with five goals in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, and ended with six tallies through five matches at the World Under-18 Championship. After a hat trick versus Canada in the recent prospect showcase and a two-goal performance to help Finland capture bronze on the final day, his value was proven in an arena full of scouts. Goal-scoring has followed him through every advancement in level he’s experienced, and that’s not expected to change when he reaches the NHL.

Elite Prospects

As good as that offensive game sounds, there are some issues. He has good awareness of the game around him and that’s why he’s fairly strong in defensive duties and forechecking opportunities, but that all goes away when the puck attaches to his stick. The blinders go on and his only thought is putting that puck into the net himself.

Sometimes that works out for him. He’ll be confident he can force his way through a defender or two to get close enough to the net to score. Good puck-handling ability and the excellent shot make that successful on occasion. Selfishness can be a strength for a shooter, and there are plenty of dangerous forwards who need to adopt that trait as they grow. In Kemell’s case, it often means he misses scoring chances that require him to defer the puck.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #10
FCHockey: #11
Hockey Prospect: #12
McKeen’s: #7
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #7
NHL Central Scouting: #2 (European skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #7
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #7

The abilities that would allow him to become a dual-threat option are visible in other areas, so it’s a matter of altering his mindset from pure attack to a more calculated game, evaluating the options available to him. He would quickly discover that a few give-and-goes or peeling off to let someone else attract the attention would lead to even more goals.

The adjustments seem simple enough to make, just applying the tools he already has to offensive situations, and his projection is high because of that. It’s not often a team is presented with a hard-working forward who’s also the most dangerous player on the ice, and that’s what he represents.

At the very least he should be a top-unit power-play option in the NHL who doesn’t need to be sheltered at even strength; a serviceable bottom-six winger who lies in wait for his chance to shine on the man advantage. But if he can make the changes required to be a complete offensive player, he’d be worthy of time with a team’s top offensive stars. making him a very valuable player to add to a prospect pool.