Who are Jyrki Jokipakka and Brett Pollock?

After being acquired for a fifth round pick back in the 2013 off-season, Kris Russell’s tenure as a Calgary Flame is over. For the impending UFA the Flames were unlikely to be able to re-sign, the Flames got back quite a haul: two young players and a second round pick that could turn into a first.

No matter how you slice it, that’s a fantastic trade, and we’re all undoubtedly cheering for the Stars to make the conference finals – because that pick could be as high as 27th overall.

But unlike with the Jiri Hudler trade, the Flames actually got some names back, too. Who are Jyrki Jokipakka and Brett Pollock?

The basics

Jokipakka (who, if you’re having trouble with his name, you can simply call “Kevin”) is a 6’3, 215 lb. 24-year-old Finnish defenceman. He has, thus far, played 91 NHL games – 40 this season, his sophomore year – all with the Dallas Stars, who selected him 195th overall in the 2011 draft. He has two goals and four assists for Dallas this season, and averages 14:10 a game.

He also carries a $900k cap hit, and is signed through next season. He becomes an RFA in 2017.

Pollock is a 6’3, 194 lb. 19-year-old centre/left winger, though he’ll turn 20 on March 17 (a St. Patrick’s Day baby! He shares a birthday with Mikael Backlund!). The Stars selected him 45th overall in the 2014 draft. He’s playing his fourth and likely final year for the Edmonton Oil Kings, who will probably make the WHL playoffs in a wild card slot.

Through 63 games this season, Pollock has scored 25 goals and 42 assists for 67 total points: Edmonton’s leading scorer by a fair margin (the next guy, Lane Bauer, has 58 points through 63 games). He also wears an ‘A’ for Edmonton, and is already signed to an entry level deal that is still sliding due to his junior status.

The fancy stuff

Because Pollock’s still in junior, we don’t have a ton more to go on with him – though because he plays for the Oil Kings, he’s easily watchable in this neck of the woods. He looks to have power forward potential due to his size, with obvious scoring ability.

Jokipakka, on the other hand, is already an NHL defenceman, added to a reasonably young group – two years older than Dougie Hamilton, and a year younger than T.J. Brodie – who, at the very least, looks to be on Russell’s level already.


Jokipakka is being utilized as a bottom pairing guy, and has the stats to match it – though he already appears at least somewhat better than Russell when it comes to preventing corsi events against. He’s also rather young and in just his second season, so the chance to improve remains.

It’s just a really nice added bonus that he’s really, really cheap – though his size is also probably welcome.

Via War on Ice, here’s how Jokipakka compared to the rest of the Stars’ defence:

dallas stars d jokipakka

His usage is evident: he’s been sheltered (much like Russell was), and comparatively, has a negative 5v5 CF% rel (-2.96, to be exact). His overall corsi, however – minding that Dallas is a 53.5% CF team, second in the league – is 50.34%, second worst out of all Stars defencemen. Out of all regular Flames defenders, he would be second in raw 5v5 CF, behind Mark Giordano (51.08%) and just ahead of Brodie (50.32%).

He is, however, improving, increasing his possession numbers (49.7% CF in his rookie year) while taking harder zone starts:

woi jyrki jokipakka

Is it possible Jokipakka steps right into Russell’s old role alongside Hamilton? Maybe, depending on what happens when Dennis Wideman returns, and how much the Flames want or are able to keep Jakub Nakladal and Tyler Wotherspoon together. 

But prior to being traded, it looks like Dallas was using him in the role he was best suited for, at least at present time – though he’s only through his second NHL season, so who knows what the future will bring for him?

  • hulkingloooooob

    All the props to Russell. what a beast. takes all the shots on the ice and all the shots from FN too. Russ you rule, good luck in Dallas. I hope you win the cup (this year!)

    the pick is great. so this means we have to hope dallas loses tons now but still makes conference finals. okay, got it.

    then we’ve got another decent cheap D. okay. why not. no risk.

    and Pollock looks …..wow!

    i’d say that’s a win!

    tree-riffic!

    happy trails friend.

  • freethe flames

    I just went and looked at Pollock’s stats and then compared them to Auston Carroll’s; very comparable. Has anyone seen both of them play in the WHL care to share their opinions.

    • cberg

      Haven’t seen either play but, damn, that video above is pretty impressive. I may have to go see the Hitmen vs the Oil Kings to check out both him and our own, Kanzig and Karnaukov.

  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    I KNOW it’s way too soon to tell, but this guy seems to be more of defence first kind of player…Loubo talked about how great his skating is on the FAN960 today, and the Flames scouts have been good lately, MAYBE this guy gels with Hamilton? could you imagine if he turns into Hamonic? Top four would be set for a while… a guy can dream, anyway when is draft day?

  • Mullen7

    Is it just me or did the Flames essentially get more for Russell than when they traded Iggy? Of course it’s too soon to tell and the conditional draft pick will affect that judgement but at first blush that’s just craziness.

  • Hubcap1

    I think some people might be drinking the Jokipakka juice, he hasn’t done anything yet lets wait till we see him for a while.

    But all in all a really good trade deadline for the Flames.

  • Danomitee

    I feel for Canucks fans today, sure we can hate them but their complete lack of competent management over the last two weeks is bewildering. We are in very similar situations yet look at what Trev was able to accomplish. They were pissed about the Hunter trade, I can’t imagine how angry they must be now.

  • beloch

    Sportsnet 960 had an interview with “Kevin”, and he sounded pretty choked up. Going from a contender (that drafted you) to a non-playoff team sucks pretty hard. He’s definitely not happy to be a Flame today.

    So, while I’m not convinced he’s going to be an important piece for the Flames moving forward, I certainly hope he’s given a chance to surprise us all. It’s a rough day for this kid, and I’d hate to see his season end in the AHL on top of this. That would be the stuff of a bad country song.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    Jurki Jokipakka sounded like he couldn’t wait for the interview to be over so that he could go cry in the shower before leaving to join the Flames

  • beloch

    Two fun facts:

    • The Russel trade with the Stars may have kiboshed Vancouver’s attempt to unload Hamhuis, who is a pending UFA. If nothing materializes in the next hour or so, this adds an entirely new dimension of win to the Russel trade.
    • TIL: Lee Stempniak is currently the leading scorer for the Devils. That’s just hilarious. Who saw that coming?
  • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

    So Grandlund, Russell and Hudler for:

    Kevin (Love that), Pollock, Shin, two (2) seconds and a forth…

    BT did an outstanding job these past couple of weeks.

    Cant wait for the draft….

  • al rain

    “Pollock is a 6’3, 194 lb. 19-year-old centre/left winger, though he’ll turn 20 on March 17 (a St. Patrick’s Day baby! He shares a birthday with Mikael Backlund!).”

    What happens to Tiger Beat writers when they grow up? Apparently they write for Flames Nation.

  • beloch

    If you take “Kevin” away from a much stronger possession team his personal possession stats will likely correct downwards in a big way. In other words, he’ll likely get his head bashed in if put on the Flames’ second pair. I’m not convinced this is anything other than a salary dump for the Stars. A minor one, but I’m not convinced Jokipakka actually has positive value.

    Pollock, on the other hand, is a second round pick who’s junior career is tracking like a second round pick should. He’s neither exceeding expectations or failing to live up to them at this point. The real question will be how he transitions to pro. This is basically like getting an additional second round pick.

    Two second rounders and a minor salary dump for Russel, with the outside chance one of those second rounders can become a first? Good trade!

  • mk

    Jokipakka seems really stunned by the trade. Doesn’t sound super excited but that could just be the shock of getting traded.

    For those thinking Jokipakka could jump in a replace Russell straight up, remember that Russell had similar possession stats before he starting getting big minutes.

    http://public.tableau.com/shared/M895GC7WB?:display_count=yes

    Edit: Jokipakka looks like a decent option further down the depth chart. No complaints here, but he’s not a plug-n-play option for the top 4.

    • piscera.infada

      Yeah. I’m not sure I’d start getting all hot and bothered by Jokipakka (aside from his name, of course). He’s still a good acquisition. Young, cost-controlled, there’s some potential there as well. But, as with most things, it’s not worth getting all riled up before we can watch him closely over the days, months, and year to come.

      • The Last Big Bear

        I’ve been living in Texas and watching Jokipakka over the past days, months, and years.

        I’m very hot and bothered by this acquisition.

        I would have considered this a win for the Flames if it had been Russel-for-Jokipakka straight across. The kid is comparable to Russel, but bigger and younger and cheaper.

        Getting Dallas to add is just fantastic.

        I give this trade an A+.

  • RedMan

    no doubt some young players will be playing in Calgary next year, meaning we will need to fill AHL/CHL ranks as well…

    this makes for competition among the prospects to get ice-time and develop

  • For Pete's Sake!

    With Jokipakka already there to step into Russell’s spot and picking up a great kid like Pollock plus a 2nd(possibly 1st) pick.

    Wow. Treliving has already won Trade Deadline Day deals just like he won on Draft Day last summer with the Dougie Hamilton coup. He’s proving over and over to be one of the shrewdest traders in the league.

    • Sobueno

      Let’s also remember the return he got for ol’ Reto Berra to Colorado (a 2nd), who coincidentally was just waived I’m pretty sure.

      Treliving is definitely showing a knack for reading the market and making some shrewd moves!

      • beloch

        Given what could have happened if Vancouver had beaten Treliving to the punch and traded Hamhuis to Dallas, some might say Treliving was a bit lucky today. However, I get the impression Treliving had a viable Plan B, while Benning apparently didn’t.

        And… He’s not done yet according to SN960 and Dean Molberg. Another trade is supposedly pending.

        • Sobueno

          Sounded like several teams had interest in Russell, which is likely what drove up the price. If it hadn’t been Dallas, I bet we would’ve still had a decent return (if not quite as good).

          I think one of the factors screwing over the ‘Nucks was the full no-trade clause Hamhuis had in addition to the fact he apparently didn’t really want to relocate.

    • RedMan

      is Jokipakka on a one-way contract?

      i guess i was thinking he would have to win a spot over Wotherspoon/Nakladal/Kulak, and may end up filling an AHL spot of he is not better.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I’d be careful about directly comparing Russell to Kevin. I’m certainly not a Russell booster, but he was playing reasonably tough comp in Calgary, and significant minutes. Russell in a bottom pairing role, like Kevin, performed better than Kevin currently is, relative to his team.

  • Brodano12

    So we now have Gio, Brodie, Hamilton, Wideman, Smid, Engelland and Jokipakka signed for next year, with Kulak also under contract, and Tspoon&Nakladal are RFA/UFA. Tspoon and Nakladal have both impressed a ton and it would be foolish to let them go this offseason.

    So what do we do? Can we trade one or two of Wideman/Smid/Engelland? All of them are 6/7th dmen at best, while Tspoon/Nakladal/Jokipakka/Kulak seem to be good 5/6 dmen, all with the potential to become a cheap, solid defensive #4 to complement Hamilton.

    I love how great our defensive depth is, and it’s a great problem to have, but I definitely am worried that Hartley will play Engelland, Wideman and Smid over Jokipakka, Tspoon, Nakladal and/or Kulak. Really hope we don’t lose any of those players to free agency either.

    imo Wideman has value still (at least to other teams), especially at next year’s deadline, so I’d rather keep him and try to trade him with salary retained, as that’s better than buying him out cap wise. Plus, if we buy out Raymond and Smid, both of whom have zero value, we save 4.8 million this year and are only penalized 2.4 the next year, which we can afford once the Wideman, Engelland and Bollig contracts expire (and we only have to re-sign Bennett). The 4.8 would go a long way in the Johhny/Monny deals and in finding another top 6 winger for Bennett’s wing.