Player Profile: Jani Hakanpää

Nic Coury/AP

Jani Hakanpää is a Finnish right-handed defenseman currently playing for the Dallas Stars. However, Hakanpää hasn’t always been a Dallas Star. Here’s what you need to know about the 31-year-old defenseman you love, like, or hate.

Finnish Career Beginnings
Jani Hakanpää, 31, was born in Kirkkonummi, Finland, on March 31, 1992. Hakanpää stands at 6’7″ and weighs 222 lbs. He began his professional hockey career playing in his native Finland for the Espoo Blues of the SM-Liiga during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, respectively.

St. Louis Blues’ Draft Pick
The St. Louis Blues drafted Jani Hakanpää with the 104 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Draft. Hakanpää signed a three-year, entry-level contract worth $2.7 million with the Blues on May 22, 2012. He attended the Blues’ training camp in 2012, but the team returned him to the Espoo Blues on loan to start the 2012-13 season. He registered five points in 34 regular-season games in Finland before returning to the United States to play out the 2012-13 season with the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Peoria Rivermen, where he registered four points in 14 regular-season games in Peoria, Ill.

After completing his three-year, entry-level contract with the Blues, Hakanpää returned to Finland and signed a two-year contract with the Oulun Kärpät of the Liiga on July 2, 2015. He showed a developing two-way game with seven points in 16 postseason games during the 2017-18 season. He also led Liiga defensemen in Plus-Minus in back-to-back seasons and tied for second among the league’s defensemen with a career-best 11 goals while registering 23 points in 52 regular-season games for league-leading Oulun Kärpät during the 2018-19 season and four points in 17 postseason games as Oulun Kärpät fell to HPK in the finals to defend the Championship.

Stint With Anaheim Ducks
Jani Hakanpää returned to the United States and signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with the Anaheim Ducks as a free agent. Hakanpää registered one point in five regular-season games during the 2019-20 NHL season. He registered one point in 42 regular-season games during the 2020-21 NHL season, while leading the Ducks and placing third in the NHL in hits.

Trade to Carolina Hurricanes
The Anaheim Ducks traded Jani Hakanpää and a sixth-round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Canadian defenseman Haydn Fleury on April 12, 2021. Hakanpää registered three points in 15 regular-season games during the 2020-21 NHL season.

Dallas Stars’ Contract
Jani Hakanpää signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract with the Dallas Stars on July 29, 2021. Hakanpää had his first multi-point game and registered 12 points during the 2021-22 NHL season.

Personal Life
Jani Hakanpää has been married to his wife since June 2020. The couple welcomed a baby girl together on August 23, 2021.

Hakanpää chose the Dallas Stars during the 2021 NHL free agency due to the Finnish connection, including the Finnish Mafia, and a chance to win the Stanley Cup — all based on his intuition.

In September 2021, Hakanpää told, “From the start, it was a good gut feeling I had … It’s hard to explain, but I had a good feeling about it right off the bat. We had a lot of Finns here already, so I got to talk to them and ask around … It really came down to the wire, but I went with my gut feeling. I’ve been liking it so far.”

Hakanpää added, “I knew Esa (Lindell) probably the best … Growing up, we used to play against each other quite a bit. And going back to my St. Louis days, we used to work out together in the summers with the same group of people. I think it was like two or three summers. We have a lot of mutual friends. With Kivi (Joel Kiviranta), we played on the national team and ended up winning the whole thing. That’s something you never forget.”

Final Thoughts
Right now, Jani Hakanpää is unavailable due to a lower-body injury. But, when healthy, Hakanpää would be part of a safe defensive pairing for the Stars. Hakanpää is a reliable defenseman, for the most part, in my opinion.

Ana Kieu

Ana Kieu is a journalist by trade. Her love for sports shows in her writing, editing, and podcasting work. She writes about the NHL for Inside The Rink.

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