Team Finland Roster Review
Hey, everyone. It’s Dan Mount again and this time I’ve got another Olympic roster breakdown with Finland’s roster. We are only 10 days away from the start of the opening ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics. I’ve already completed rosters for Team USA, Canada, Russia and Sweden. I’ll have rosters for the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Best of the Rest before the games.
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Juhamatti Aaltonen (Kärpät Oulu in Finland); Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers); Valtteri Filppula (Tampa Bay Lightning); Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild); Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh Penguins); Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg Jets); Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild); Leo Komarov (Dynamo Moscow of the KHL); Petri Kontiola (Traktor Chelyabinsk- KHL); Lauri Korpikoski (Phoenix Coyotes); Jori Lehtera (Sibir Novosibirsk- KHL); Antti Pihlstrom (Salavat Yulayev Ufa- KHL); Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina Hurricanes); Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks).
Who may have gotten snubbed: I really would’ve loved to see Saku Koivu get one more turn at the Olympics before he retires. However, the classy as ever Koivu was willing to give up his spot according to a couple of tweets from sportswriter Matias Strozyk (on Twitter @MaStrozyk).
Koivu's message: "I feel that in my case dreams and reality are conflicting. I would prefer to be replaced by a better-prepared player."— Matias Strozyk (@MaStrozyk) January 7, 2014
I know part of Saku Koivu wanted to be there, but he was willing to give up his spot because he didn’t want to hurt the team. Koivu has been dealing with concussion-related issues, and Finnish head coach Erkka Westerlund wasn’t satisfied with his fitness.
Breakdown: This is an interesting mix of forwards with this squad. Mikko Koivu (Saku’s brother) is still in despite suffering a broken ankle. Guys like Barkov and Granlund and young, but could be big-time players. (Granlund scored the Fins world championship clincher in 2011.) Depth may be an issue outside of the top six.
The ageless Teemu Selanne has made his record-tying sixth Olympic team. He’s only the second person to do this in ice hockey.
Lasse Kukkonen (Kärpät Oulu- Finland); Juuso Hietanen (Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod- KHL): Sami Lepisto (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg- KHL): Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh Penguins); Sami Salo (Tampa Bay Lightning); Kimmo Timmonen (Philadelphia Flyers); Ossi Vaananen (Jokerit Helsinki- Finland); Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks)
Breakdown: Kimmo Timmonen is the leader of this group and is a solid two-way defenseman. However, the defense (Timmonen and Sami Salo) are older and may have lost a step or two. The younger blueliners may not be as experienced in a major tournament like the others.
Antii Niemi (San Jose Sharks); Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars); Tuuka Rask (Boston Bruins)
Who may have gotten snubbed: I really feel for Pekka Rinne of Nashville. He was inexplicably left off the 2010 team that won the bronze medal, and now he’s been dealing with an infection after offseason hip surgery. If healthy, I think he could’ve competed with Rask for the starting job.
Breakdown: Rask is going to have to do a lot of the lifting in this group and later in the tournament. Niemi and Lehtonen are solid NHL goalies, but Rinne would’ve been a good 1A to Rask’s 1.
Final analysis: There’s a good mix of young and old on this roster, but the team isn’t as deep as it was in Vancouver. If Mikko Koivu can’t go, it could be a problem for them. However this team always finds a way to win or at least medal. (The finished 3rd in Vancouver despite projections otherwise.) They might have a couple of seemingly easier games after taking on Canada in Group B. (They have Austria and Norway in the group as well.) The Fins always seem to do well at these international tournaments, but I don’t see them as placing in the medals. I predict fourth or fifth place for them.
That’s it for today. I’ll have the Czech Republic and Slovakia later in the week. Plus, the best of the rest and burning questions before the games start on Feb. 6. Take care.
Dan Mount is an NHL columnist for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY.