Hakkarainen Chicago Blackhawks Pick Ready for Next Step

Hakkarainen Chicago Blackhawks Pick Ready for Next Step

August 7, 2018 1 By Rachel Anderson

It’s an understatement to say that I was excited when I saw Mikael Hakkarainen selected in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks 139th overall. One of four former Muskegon Lumberjacks selected this year, Hakkarainen is ready to take the next step in his development. Access Hockey MI got to talk to “Hakk” about his time at Development Camp and what he’s looking forward to next!

from ushl to nhl development
USHL Muskegon Lumberjacks - Mikael Hakkarainen - Access Hockey MI

Muskegon Lumberjacks forward, Mikael Hakkarainen, retrieves the puck at the LC Walker Arena.

Hakkarainen was a crowd favorite when with the Lumberjacks. Averaging almost a point a game, often having multi-point nights, Hakk produced every time his foot hit the ice. Developing his game immensely in the USHL, briefly with the Chicago Steel and then Muskegon, Hakkarainen made it impossible not to notice him. After getting selected, Mikael headed to Chicago for Development Camp. Hakkarainen told Access Hockey MI, “I feel I did good, there are some areas I need to improve, which are my strength and skating.” Like many young players, Development Camp forces them to take an inventory of their game. The wise take notes and improve – which is exactly what Hakkarainen has does.

Despite being a grade-A player, he understands he has to set himself apart in order to make it further. The experience in the camp as a whole was positive for the Finland-native. I asked Hakkarainen what the highlight of the experience was, “My highlight was to be out there with all the prospects and prove myself I belong there.”

There is no doubt in my mind that he proved he belonged there. Hakkarainen plays with tenacity and energy – which is initially what caught the Blackhawks’ eye. According to the Chicago Sun Times, “‘When you went and saw him play, he got on the scoresheet,’’ Kelley said. ‘‘But even if he wasn’t on the scoresheet, you noticed him play. He played hard — 200-foot.’’

hakkarainen College-bound for now

Hakkarainen is committed to Providence University, which means Chicago has four years to choose to sign him or not. Though

Hakkarainen - Muskegon Lumberjacks - Access Hockey MI

Muskegon Lumberjacks forward, Mikael Hakkarainen.

having the four-year cushion can be daunting to some, Hakk is going to use the time to his advantage. “I look to the faster and stronger throughout my college years,” he told Access Hockey MI, “and be more consistent on the ice day in and day out.” Making the change from USHL to NCAA isn’t easy, but Hakk is determined to use the time wisely.

Hakkarainen’s work ethic is undeniable, and Chicago has struck gold in that regard. Having battled back from concussions most of last season, Hakk still fit into the top line with ease. Every night, he was grinding alongside the leadership and elite. Determined to stand out in the crowd while playing for Providence, Mikael stated that he “can standout with my playmaking and skating ability, also with my work ethic.” Though he’s competing against some fellow promising draftees for the limelight, Hakkarainen will no doubt woo the hearts of the Chicago scouts.

what now? 

Hakkarainen will head off to college like the rest of the Y2K-babies. Hakk is a workhorse and served and made use of every minute of ice time he had. As a journalist, its an honor to see him and the other Lumberjacks, represent the team they once belonged to. He’s a fun kid with a wonderful attitude. With the Blackhawks amid a developmental period as well, he’ll be primed and ready to take the ice with the pros in no time.

See more Lumberjacks draft stories here

NHL Draft Reactions here

Hakk’s first interview with Access Hockey MI here