Thursday, June 28, 2018

Bokk understands he needs work to make it to NHL

2018 first-round pick was targeted by Blues since 
seeing him play in 2016, will play in Sweden in 2018-19

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Fearing that someone would step up and grab him wright before picking at No. 29 at the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blues felt the need to move up and grab someone high on their list of players that they felt was one of the best available.

The Blues, picked Dominik Bokk with the 25th pick after moving up four spots and sacrificing a third-round pick last week to take the German-born right wing.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Blues 2018 first-round pick Dominik Bokk dons
his new jersey after being selected in Dallas.

And it was a player the Blues had high on their list of players that suited what they were looking for, and someone that they had their eye on for some time.

"I think our first viewing on him was when he played the U-17's actually in Dallas believe it or not (at the Five Nations Tournament). Our scouts saw him there and have been on him and identified him," Blues director of amateur scouting Bill Armstrong said of Bokk. "We've had a long history with him. And we were on him early. We got to watch him for a full year. He had some moments where he was up and down in the season and he went from the elite league obviously down to the lower league of the juniors and he really took off at the end of the season.

"We had a couple guys pegged that we thought might drop. When he started coming our way, we were nervous that somebody else was going to get him, and we were right in our thought process. I believe that if we had waited to get him where we were going to pick at 29, he wouldn't be there. We had to be aggressive on him and we had a good strategy mapped out before and he was the one guy that slipped and we were able to get him."

But Bokk's admission, the 18-year-old will not be in a Blues uniform anytime soon. Bokk, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 176 pounds, will return to Sweden and play for the Växjö Lakers HC in 2018-19 after spending last season with the Lakers.

And the ability to speak four languages will benefit Bokk, who speaks German, Swedish, English and Russian (his parents are Russian).

"I need to get stronger, body-wise," Bokk said. "Strong on the puck. And my shooting accuracy.

"I need some time. I need to get stronger. Maybe two to three years something like that."

Bokk, born in Schweinfurt, Germany, majority of the 2017-18 season with the Lakers' J20 team in the SuperElit League and had 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists) in 35 regular-season games before collecting 11 points (five goals, six assists) in eight playoff games. 

"He's a kid in a sense that's raw in his body type,  but the skills and instincts are there," Armstrong said of Bokk. "He's kind of like the modern, new-age NHL player of speed. He can think at high speeds.

"They're like your children; there's a lot of patience that you have to have. Sometimes they have situations where they accelerate their growth as players and other times they get there with teams where it doesn't happen. You have to have some patience."

It is why Bokk said he tries to model his game of Artemi Panarin of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I'm a skilled forward," Bokk said. "I like to score goals. I like to make nice plays. And I'm a good skater."

Bokk has spent the week here in St. Louis at the Blues' developmental camp, and has learned the ropes of what professional life and living is like in the NHL. It's a good benefit to learn the ropes of waking up at 5 a.m. and getting into a routine of what an NHL player should be doing, how to eat, proper nutrition, daily habits, sleep patterns and many more aspects. 

"My main goal is trying to compete and go hard in every practice and get better," Bokk said. "... It's great. I wasn't on the ice for two months, so it's a great feeling to be back especially here."