Finland defenseman Henri Jokiharju had high praise for his teammate Kaapo Kakko following a 6-1 semifinal dismantling of Switzerland on Friday, comparing the 17-year-old to one of the most lethal goal scorers in the NHL.
“He seems a little bit like Auston Matthews,” Jokiharju said of Kakko, according to TSN’s Mark Masters. “Short stick, quick hands, he’s a good skater, and he can make some good plays in tight areas.
“(Kakko’s) going to be No. 1 (pick in 2019 draft),” he added, according to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale.
If anyone on Finland has the right to make such comparison, it’s certainly Jokiharju. The 19-year-old spent 32 games with the Chicago Blackhawks this season before joining Finland for the world juniors, and in just his second NHL game, he got a front-row view of Matthews’ brilliance, as the Maple Leafs’ superstar picked up two goals and two assists en route to a wild 7-6 overtime win for Toronto.