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Erlantz Jokinen Rookie Experience


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After a strong year in VHLM, I moved to VHL. I was drafted by Riga and in the first round. When you are picked in the first round, a lot is expected from you. Other players in the team expect you to be ready to play, and the coaches also have certain expectations for you. I did not feel any type of extra pressure. I just focused on my own game.


I did not have any massive expectations before the season started. I wanted a decent role that would allow me to keep improving as a player. I'm an offensive defender, points are not everything, but I'm at my best in the offensive zone and with the puck. Before the season, I remember thinking that If I get close to 0.5 PPG, that would have been an excellent rookie year in my books.


I started my rookie year in Riga. I played around 30 or so games in a relatively small role. That was a worry of mine when I made the team after the training cam, do I get to play in a role that suits my strengths? Unfortunately, I did not manage to secure such a role. I was mainly used as a depth option. I did not get the offensive zone starts, so it goes without saying, I had a tough time putting up points and showing the coaches what I can do with the puck as I had to focus on making sure I don't make mistakes. I had to make the easy plays and just skate to the bench.




Nothing wrong with such a role. However, as mentioned, I need to play with the puck. I need to play much as possible in general to improve as a player. I talked with my agent, and we then talked with the Riga management. A trade was made, I was moved to Seattle.

The start of my career in Seattle was positive. I was put into a big role right away. I even got a point in my first game. That might not sound that exciting, but after playing in a small role those points feel great. Getting to play a lot feels great. Even making a mistake in the offensive zone feels great. Not because I made the mistake, but because I'm in the offensive and playing with the puck.


I'm hopeful that I'm able to keep this role and keep on improving as a player. When my rookie year is over, I will hopefully be a much better player. That is purely from getting to play in different situations and against the best players in VHL.

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