Height / Weight: 6-1 / 196
REPORT: LUKKO @ TAPPARA (LIIGA), AUGUST 21, 2019
Kukkonen was paired with Czech defenseman David Nemecek as Lukko beat Tappara 3-2 in a Liiga preseason game. The two complemented each other’s game quite well, as Nemecek played a physical game with snarl, while Kukkonen made some plays with the puck. He recorded a primary assist in the first period. He had room at the point, got the puck on net and Linus Nyman redirected the shot home. He played an intense game and competed hard in the defensive end. He also made a very good block in the first period. On another occasion, Kukkonen was able to keep the puck in the offensive zone in a tough position without his stick. His positioning and angling need work, though. His skating was strong, he had good straight-ahead speed and he could carry the puck up the ice efficiently when it was the right decision to make. The 19-year-old blueliner looks more ready for the Liiga than at the end of the past season.
REPORT: TAPPARA @ HIFK U20, SEPTEMBER 14, 2018
Kukkonen played over 26 minutes and recorded two assists for Tappara U20 in a 4-3 win over HIFK. He showed great vision on the primary assist, finding Arttu Tuomaala’s stick with a great backdoor pass from the blueline. He moved the puck well out of the zone, making accurate and crisp breakouts. He played with a bit of an edge, engaging physically at times and laying a couple of heavy hits in the game. While not a particularly explosive skater, Kukkonen is mobile with good foot speed. Although he wasn’t as consistent as his defensive partner Iivari Räsänen, there is a lot to like about Kukkonen’s offensive vision and ability to get pucks up the ice. The Buffalo Sabres fifth rounder has some nice potential as a two-way defenseman – I think this pick could really pay off in a few years.