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2022 Top 25 Under 25: Mikko Kokkonen is #17

Up next is a defender coming to North America.

2019 NHL Draft - Portraits
We'd use a newer photo but there's a labeling problem. Too many Mikkos.
Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Mikko Kokkonen! Number 17 on our list of the top 25 Toronto Maple Leafs under the age of 25!

He is a defender coming from the Lahti Pelicans who has a shiny new contract with the Leafs this season. Let's get to it.

The Player

Who is Mikko Kokkonen? Let's dig into his Wikipedia to find out some more about him.

....well you get what you pay for.

This 2019 third round pick signed his entry level contract in March 2022, with the deal beginning in the upcoming 22/23 season.

He’s been a go to player for Finland throughout his career, winning U18 Gold and U20 bronze with the national team. He isn't known for offensive prowess, but so far in his career he's been considered a reliable defender, just not a flashy player who will stand out in every game, and isn't that what we want from our defenders?

If he does end up playing with the Marlies this year he'll be in a learning role, as a mid-tier defender working on his game in the Leafs system and may show up on a highlight reel. He will quietly do his job and my assumption is we will only hear about him if there's a major mistake in a game.

The Votes

Being ranked from 13th to 20th just adds to the Kokkonen mystery. Why are we so divided on him? Why won't he just pick a spot?

Mikko Kokkonen Votes

Voters Ranking
Voters Ranking
Species 16
Katya 16
seldo 19
Brian 20
TomK421 17
dhammm 18
Josh - Smaht Scouting 18
Hardev 13
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Polak 18
Weighted Average 17.22
Highest Rank 13
Lowest Rank 20
Spread in Votes 7

Explain yourselves, voters.

dhammm: Very off this guy but I can’t rank him lower. If he plays NHL games, he is very likely to be like Martin Marincin, a player who can chew depth minutes but everyone hates looking at him. I can't rank him any lower with a straight face because he's been playing against men in Liiga consistently and comfortably since his draft year and in his only AHL action in 2020-21 he put up a beguiling amount of points in a small sample size. No matter the lack of dynamism in his game, that puts him in a tier above unproven CHL and NCAA players and AHLers with low probabilities. Will need to stick the landing in the leap to the AHL and show that his wooden game was just him listening to his coach to rise in my esteem.

Brigstew: Didn’t look great in the Liiga, but his past AHL sample looked better. Seems like if he makes the NHL it would be as a bottom pairing, PK guy. There’s some value in that, but it won’t get anyone very excited.

TomK421: Another guy I probably moved up a few spots for literal name value. It’s so fun to say out loud. Do it now and if you don’t smile a little bit you’re dead inside. He also seems like he’ll end up as a perfectly serviceable bottom pair/press box D eventually.

Katya: He's boring. I'm bored saying this every year. The determining factor on Kokkonen is simple: is he a dump and chase player or was that his WJC coach? If it's him, he's got a hell of a lot of work to do in the AHL, but he acclimated really fast there two years ago.

Hardev: I have a theory. It’s the Mikko Kokkonen Mirror theory. It states that Mikko Kokkonen is so boring and reasonably gifted at enough things that he will magically turn into whatever anyone wants to see him as. He can probably play any style your coach wants. He can have flashes of anything a fan wants to see. Don’t expect him to shine brighter than the surroundings or absorb light, he’s just a nice happy medium. Anyway, he’s 21 for the first half of the year, he’s going to play his first full Marlies season. I’m very excited to see how this goes.

Seldo: As I said last year: "He’s a Finnish defender who may or may not come to North America to play full time, and may or may not succeed here. We’ll see you next summer, when you’ll probably be ranked somewhere between 10th and 27th."

Hey I was right!

Poll

Should we be this quick to dismiss a 21-year-old prospect like Kokkonen?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Yeah, 21 is the new 23
    (49 votes)
  • 83%
    Maybe there’s some development to come here
    (397 votes)
  • 5%
    He peaked early
    (27 votes)
473 votes total Vote Now