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BLOG: Jokiharju paired with Keith on blueline

The 2017 first-round pick skated with Duncan Keith as the Blackhawks opened camp on Friday

by Austin Siegel / chicagoblackhawks.com

Just over a year ago, Henri Jokiharju heard his name called by Patrick Kane as the Blackhawks made him the 29th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He spent Friday morning at MB Ice Arena trying to slow down Kane as part of the Blackhawks top defensive pairing. 

Jokiharju's partner on the blueline? Three-time Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith. 

"It's a big thing for me. It was awesome practicing with him today," the 19-year-old defenseman said. "I watched him a play a lot last season. He's one of the best in the league."

While it may be too early to read into the Blackhawks lines, there's no better time for Jokiharju to develop chemistry with a guy like Keith. The Blackhawks announced that Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy will both miss time with injuries on Monday, and Jokiharju has a chance to make Chicago's roster out of camp. 

Jokiharju said he isn't focused on the Blackhawks injury report, but his offseason work and game action at last week's prospect tournament has him ready to step up.

"It helped me a lot out there to get the legs going," he said. "The offseason was great for me. I think I got bigger, stronger and faster in every area."

Jokiharju pointed to decision-making as one part of his game he hopes to improve in camp.

"Quick puck decisions and stuff like that," the Finnish defender said. "The biggest thing is just how fast guys think."

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