The Next Pettersson?

Bokk looking to follow Vaxjo teammate

22.06.2018
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German forward Dominik Bokk is followed by Latvian players Emils Gegeris and Markuss Komuls during the teams’ battle for promotion to the 2019 World Juniors. Photo: Olivier Brajon

Dominik Bokk is expected to be a late first round pick at this week’s NHL Draft in Dallas, but the German forward has barely scratched the surface when it comes to his potential, according to his coaches in Vaxjo.

Bokk spent much of the 2017/18 season playing with Vaxjo’s U20 team in the SuperElit where he recorded a team-leading 41 points in 35 games. But the 18-year-old also appeared in 15 games with the Vaxjo Lakers senior team in the Swedish Hockey League scoring a goal and an assist for the Swedish champion (while earning silver with the U20 team).

He also added a goal and four assists in five games for Germany at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division I Group A where his country finished the battle for promotion in third place.

His brief time with the senior club at Vaxjo was enough for assistant coach Fredrik Hellgren to see the potential in the 185-cm (six-foot-one), 82-kg (180-pound) winger.

“You can see a lot of similarities (between) Elias (Pettersson) and Dominik,” Hellgren said. “Dominik also has a good shot, he’s good with the puck, he sees the ice very well.

“The difference between them is a little bit in the nature of... I don’t say Dominik is not humble, but Elias is extremely humble. Dominik has a good cockiness, I think.”

Pettersson, a Vancouver Canucks prospect, was named the SHL’s regular season MVP after scoring 26 goals and 54 points in 44 games with Vaxjo this season. He added 19 points in 13 playoff games and was awarded the Stefan Liv Memorial Trophy as the SHL playoff MVP.

“Skill-wise, I can compare (Bokk) with Elias. He has that skills,” Hellgren added.

“Elias was in the same spot last season going into (this past) season, a little bit doubtful, ‘Am I going to be that good? Am I going to have a spot in this team?’ As soon as he realized that, he rose and he exploded. Hopefully we can do exactly the same with Dominik and let’s see what that brings for him.”

Bokk, who saw power play time with Pettersson this season, admits he tries to model parts of his game after the Swedish forward.

“He’s a really nice guy. He’s a great hockey player and a good friend,” Bokk said. “I try to shoot like him, he has an amazing shot so I look at him when he shoots because it’s fun to see him play.”

Described as a skilled puck-mover, Bokk has smooth hands and good offensive instincts. He’s a threat whenever he has the puck on his stick in the offensive end and has the ability to find the back of the net himself or setup teammates.

The native of Schweinfurt, Germany, has a high compete level and thinks the game fast – he’s able to see an opportunity before the defence can shut it down.

The brief taste of the SHL allowed Bokk to see where he needs to improve for next season.

“It was great to make that step from juniors up to the pro team,” he said. “It was different hockey, but I think I can play at that level. They are men, they are stronger mentally and in the body, but I managed to play there and I think I can play there (next season).”

The Lakers coaching staff believes he has the skill to play at the next level too.

“We definitely do have a spot for him,” said Hellgren. “You never know when they have that boost, when they have that jump and adapt to the senior game. I think Dominik showed us for 15 games last season that he has that, but young kids play 5-6 games really really good then they slow down a little bit.

“Like always, it’s really up to him. He has to decide to really go for it 100 per cent. He has all the skills that he needs. It looks like now, that he realized, ‘I have to put that effort in’. You can hear from junior teams and staff down there that he was a little bit lazy, but that’s also a thing of growing.”

Bokk could’ve come to North America and played in the Canadian Hockey League next season as the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders selected him ninth overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, but according to his agent, Bokk will play in Sweden next season unless he makes his NHL club.

He is considered to have the talent to become a second-line playmaker at the NHL level that can help out his team’s power play. While he says he watched Blue Jackets sniper Artemi Panarin dating back to his KHL days, Bokk has drawn comparisons to Andre Burakovsky.

Bokk is ranked 12th amongst international skaters by NHL Central Scouting while ISS Hockey ranks him 28th overall.

“He’s a finesse offensive player with great offensive instincts,” said ISS Hockey scouting director Dennis MacInnis. “A little bit shy on the physical side of the game, but he’s got great hands and vision, sees the ice well, more of a playmaker.

“When you’re talking 17-18 year-old guys, consistency is the big thing. To be able to bring it game after game, shift after shift. Hopefully it’s just a maturity thing and he’ll grow.”

In order to take the next step in his game, Bokk will need to add size to his fame – something he’s already working on.

“He’s still a young kid, he has a lot of learning to do, but he has very special skills,” Hellgren said. “He needs to add on a couple pounds, but when he gets that training, he’s training with us now with the senior team so he gets quality workouts with us.

“I think that’s that most (important) thing he needs. I don’t know really, but he wasn’t used to what we did when he came here to Sweden. Not that I’m back talking the German program and what they’re doing, but I don’t think he was used to how we are doing things in Sweden.”

Hellgren figures Bokk will need a couple more seasons in the SHL before he’s fully ready to make the jump to North America and the NHL, but Bokk has just one year remaining on his contract with Vaxjo.

DHIREN MAHIBAN

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