It says something about Dominik Bokk’s potential that he is considered the best German hockey prospect since Leon Draisaitl was selected third overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2014 NHL Draft.
But while Bokk may be flattered by the comparison, he refused to actually do what Draisaitl did to make it to the NHL: play for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.
The Raiders, trying to establish a German pipeline, chose Bokk with the ninth pick of the Canadian Hockey League import draft last year. But the German winger snubbed the Raiders and chose instead to play for the Vaxjo Lakers’ junior team in Sweden.
And that decision adds another layer to the Bokk scouting report because Sweden’s junior league isn’t exactly the CHL, so the 18-year-old’s success there in his draft year – 41 points in 35 games – is tempered by the quality of the competition. Had Bokk, say, managed to average his 1.17 points-per-game as a WHL rookie, he wouldn’t be far behind CHL imports Andrei Svechnikov and Filip Zadina near the top of this year’s draft class.
Team: Vaxjo Jr. (Sweden)
From: Schweinfurt, Germany
Weight: 176 pounds
Instead, Bokk is the 12th-ranked European skater, a four-spot retreat from NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season ratings. He is projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second.
Bokk didn’t help himself after he was promoted mid-season to Vaxjo’s Swedish Hockey League team, where he managed just one goal and one assist in 15 games in the men’s league despite getting an audition alongside Elias Pettersson, the Vancouver Canucks’ spectacular prospect who led the SHL in scoring as a 19-year-old.
Still, regardless of his league and draft position, Bokk’s dynamic qualities stand out. He’s regarded as one of the best one-on-one forwards in the draft — a fast, shifty winger with wonderful hands and puck skills. The guy can dangle.
Bokk’s still learning to play in his half of the rink and build consistency in his game, although he appears to possess a high offensive ceiling. But playing in a second-tier junior league in Sweden makes it slightly harder to gauge where that ceiling might be, which is why teams in the top half of the first round aren’t likely to risk a pick on maybe the next Draisaitl.
WHAT SOME ARE SAYING
Vaxjo star Elias Pettersson told The Hockey News: “He’s very good. Like me, he’s not the biggest guy on the ice, but he’s very technical, very smart, has good stickhandling skills and a good shot.”
German coach Franz Fritzmeier told the merkur.de website: “Bokk is the greatest German talent after Leon Draisaitl. And he’s (going to be) a star in the NHL.”
Bokk, on signing with Vaxjo’s first team: “This is truly a dream come true for me. I am very proud and looking forward to belonging to a really good team and a fantastic organization.”
Bokk told the Swedish website hockeysverige.se that he originally wanted to play this season for Windsor in the Ontario Hockey League but would have come to Canada had any OHL team selected him in last year’s CHL import draft.
Three OHL teams passed on him – the Barrie Colts took top-ranked North American skater Svechnikov first overall – before Prince Albert claimed Bokk with the ninth pick. Windsor didn’t pick until No. 46.
Bokk said almost immediately that he wouldn’t report to the Raiders, despite that team’s history with Draisaitl, the German star who used a 105-point season in P.A. to launch himself into the draft.
“I spoke to my agent and we decided it wasn’t in my best interest to play in Prince Albert since I wanted to play in the OHL,” Bokk told the website in a story translated into English. “After a few days, I told him I had thought about Sweden. The agent told me that Vaxjo Lakers would be a good spot for me and that the coaches there were good. I said ‘fine’ because I knew that they are very good at developing talent in Sweden.”
Promoted to Vaxjo’s first team, Bokk is under contract with the Lakers through next season.
“(Signing) Dominik Bokk is one of my best decisions,” Vaxjo general manager Henrik Evertsson told the team’s website. “It will be very fun to follow his development.”