The Buffalo Sabres must keep playing Henri Jokiharju part-time for the rest of 2023-24

While Henri Jokiharju logged zero points in the Buffalo Sabres win over the San Jose Sharks, you can argue he was one of the team’s best skaters.
Dec 31, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju (10) controls the puck
Dec 31, 2023; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju (10) controls the puck / Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

With Mattias Samuelsson out, the Buffalo Sabres were forced to play Henri Jokiharju, and you can argue he was the team’s best defenseman in their shutout win over the San Jose Sharks. He showed off a sound two-way game, logging a whopping seven shots on goal and at times, creating opportunities by himself. Overall, Jokiharju was also on the ice for 19 minutes and 43 seconds, the most he’s seen in-game action since the Blue and Gold’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Jokiharju, who was scratched for the Ottawa and Vancouver games, seems to be playing well when he’s seeing part-time action. It could be his niche going forward, and if so, perhaps he will end up sticking around in Buffalo following the 2023-24 season when he will become a restricted free agent.

Henri Jokiharju excelled for the Buffalo Sabres following two-game absence

Jokiharju won’t command a large salary to stick around, since he’s not playing at the same level as guys on long-term deals, or at least capable of playing at that level. Further, the Sabres need someone to deliver a sound game consistently while rotating in and out of the lineup at a fair price, and Jokiharju, at this point, checks all the boxes. 

Assuming the Sabres defensive rotation is healthy, Jokiharju can sit in the press box and rotate into the lineup every other game or two, where can deliver the same type of play we saw from him vs. the Sharks. This would give him between 27 and 41 games of action should he stick around for 2024-25, and you can expect him to make an impact more often than not. 

While the Buffalo Sabres will still need a full-time skater, or someone close to a full-time skater in the rotation next season since Erik Johnson probably isn’t the guy, they may have found their extra/rotational piece. We will see if that trend continues as the season progresses, and if Jokiharju keeps up his solid play. 


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