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Blackhawks open to Henri Jokiharju playing for Finland at World Junior Championship, per report

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The rookie defenseman has 10 assists in 28 games this season.

Calgary Flames v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Blackhawks are considering whether to let Henri Jokiharju leave the team to play for Finland at the World Junior Championship, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic.

The tournament runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. If the 19-year-old Jokiharju were to play in the tournament, he’d miss at least four games.

Dec. 27: vs. Wild

Dec. 29: at Avalanche

Jan. 1: vs. Bruins (Winter Classic)

Jan. 3: at Islanders

Jokiharju has no goals and 10 assists in 28 games during his rookie season with Chicago. As Powers notes, Jokiharju is averaging just under 3 minutes less of ice time under head coach Jeremy Colliton than when Joel Quenneville was behind the bench. Chicago sending Jokiharju to World Juniors would give him increased ice time and provide him a leadership role.

Finland was third in Group A during the preliminary round last year, but were upset by the Czech Republic in a shootout. Jokiharju, who was selected by Chicago in the first round in 2017, had four points (two goals, two assists) in nine games.

Chicago has lost 18 of their last 21 games, and is currently on a seven-game losing streak. The Blackhawks slump has put them in last place in the NHL. They’re more likely to loan him to Finland for the World Juniors tournament if they continue to stay at or near the bottom of the standings.

Niklas Nordgren, 2018 third-rounder, was named to Finland’s preliminary roster for the tournament last week. The winger has four goals and seven points in 13 games for HIFK in Liiga — Finland’s top division.

Along with Nordgren, there are seven other Blackhawks prospects heading to World Juniors training camps for their respective countries:

Forwards
Evan Barratt (United States)
Philipp Kurashev (Switzerland)
MacKenzie Entwistle (Canada)

Defensemen
Nicolas Beaudin (Canada)
Adam Boqvist (Sweden)
Jakub Galvas (Czech Republic)
Ian Mitchell (Canada)