Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power have performed as-advertised for the Buffalo Sabres, but let’s not forget about the upstart Henri Jokiharju.
So far this season, Buffalo Sabres blueliners Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power have 11 and eight points, respectively, and they’re tied with the most ice time among skaters. Dahlin has once again been a force, logging 27 hits and placing second on the team with 25 blocks. Power isn’t a big hitter, but he’s also not afraid to get in front of the puck, having blocked 24 shots this season.
Dahlin has also performed well at 5-on-5, and the Sabres have a healthy 11.8 shooting percentage as a unit when he’s on the ice. They also have a respectable 90.4 save percentage, which has to this point given Dahlin a career-best PDO of 102.1.
At 5-on-5, Power’s also been effective on the ice, helping the Sabres achieve a 13.0 shooting percentage, even if the on-ice save percentage of 89.7 could be better. He’s also playing well in the Corsi and Fenwick For, as they are roughly 53 and 54 percent, respectively, when rounded to the nearest whole number. His PDO? 102.7 through 14 games.
But there is another defenseman who is starting to command respect, and that’s Henri Jokiharju, who carried his strong preseason into October, and subsequently, November. A borderline afterthought this past summer, it’s becoming clear Jokiharju has far more to offer.
Buffalo Sabres blueliner Henri Jokiharju has exceeded expectations so far
Jokiharju is averaging just 17:11 of ice time, a far cry from what he snagged over the previous two seasons, but it’s working to his benefit. He’s sporting a plus-3, seven points, a pair of goals, and five assists in 14 games, and he’s also snagged 22 blocks.
His on-ice metrics at 5-on-5 have in many ways exceeded or are at least approaching Dahlin’s and Power’s, as the Buffalo Sabres on-ice shooting percentage sits at 14.6, while their PDO is 103.2, which is the first time we will see Jokiharju in the double and triple digits among both categories should his stellar play continue.
And this has come with the Sabres logging a respective Corsi and Fenwick For of under 47 percent, with just 40.5 percent of all zone starts occurring in the offensive zone with Jokiharju on the ice. But that doesn’t take away the 14 goals for when he’s been on the ice, which matches Dahlin and sits just three below Power.
Overall, Jokiharju has been outstanding, considering the fact we didn’t know if he’d remain in a Sabres uniform for 2023-24 given the influx of blueliners in the lineup. And while Ryan Johnson will eventually pass Jokiharju if he stays in the NHL and remains effective, you can call the 24-year-old the Blue and Gold’s third-best defenseman at the moment.
(Statistics and analytics provided by Hockey-Reference)