Names To Know: Joakim Kemell's Goal-Scoring Ability Makes Him An Intriguing Prospect At The Top Of The NHL Draft

By Dan Dukart on May 19, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Joakim Kemell playing for JYP in Liiga

Welcome to another installment of 'Names To Know', a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

With two of the first dozen selections — picks #6 and #12 overall — the Blue Jackets have a chance to select two players that could become franchise cornerstones for years to come. There are plenty of names to be considered ahead of the July 7 date in this wide-open draft. 

Picture this: a can't-miss, Finnish winger with a bomb of a shot. Patrik Laine? Yes. But it also sounds just like Joakim Kemell. While Kemell, 5'11", lacks the towering size of his fellow countryman, he's still seen as one of the top prospects in the upcoming draft.

Let's get this out of the way: Kemell may not be even theoretically available for the Blue Jackets to select at #6, much less #12, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. 

The right-handed winger's best asset is his shot. He can beat goalies, even in Finland's top professional league, Liiga, from distance. In 39 games with JYP, he tallied 15-8-23, playing the entire season as a 17-year-old. Recently, he posted 5-1-6 in five games for Finland at the 2022 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

The Athletic's Corey Pronman had him ranked 7th in his most recent player ranking, and had positive things to say about the prospect:

Kemell is a well-rounded winger who has almost every NHL attribute you want other than size at 5-foot-11. He brings skill and speed to his shifts, showing the ability to carry the puck up ice and create chances for himself and teammates. Kemell can pass the puck very well, but his shot is his main weapon. You can set him up from mid-range and he can finish. He lacks size, but he plays hard, showing no fear of engaging physically to win back pucks or to take a hit to make a play. He projects as a very good top-six winger who will score a lot of goals in the NHL.

Kemell isn't a one-dimensional player, but it's probably fair to say that he isn't the single most dynamic player in the draft. On the other hand, his calling card, scoring goals, is (obviously) a valuable skill to possess. That he isn't an elite skater, or a center, also could work against him in the draft. Still, he's a competitive player that is tenacious on pucks defensively and as a forechecker, is. Simply put, his assets are hard to ignore.  

Kemell struggled (at least, in comparison to his ridiculous start) in the second half of his season after coming back from a shoulder injury.

The one area that may concern a team is drafting a player based on a shot-first profile. A player like Filip Zadina (6th overall, 2018) comes to mind as a top-10 overall drafted prospect that was perhaps taken too early based on his ability to beat goalies cleanly from distance. That trait tends to vanish quickly for many at the NHL level - just ask Emil Bemstrom. That example isn't to compare the two players; Kemell is a different player than Zadina. But it is a cautionary tale.     

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