By Tim Waugh
With the newly re-established World Cup of Hockey around the corner, Team Finland has spent the last few months finalizing its roster and naming captains, gearing up for what is expected to be another great showing for it’s international hockey program. Over the years, Finland’s greatest export has been goaltenders. With names like Pekka Rinne, Tuukka Rask, Kari Lehtonen, Antii Niemi, just to name a few, Finland has always been strongest between the pipes. But the winds of change have blown through, and a young and exciting crop of forwards and defenseman are stealing the limelight from their net-minding comrades.
Team Finland 2016 World Cup of Hockey roster is as followed:
Forwards – Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild), Jussi Jokinen (Florida Panthers), Patrik Laine (Tampere), Sebastian Aho (Karpat), Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers), Joonas Donskoi (San Jose Sharks), Valtteri Filppula (Tampa Bay Lightening), Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild), Erik Haula (Minnesota Wild), Leo Komarov (Toronto Maple Leafs), Lauri Korpikoski (Free Agent), Jori Lehtera (St. Louis Blues), Tuevo Teravainen (Carolina Hurricanes).
Defensemen – Rasmus Ristolainen (Buffalo Sabres), Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh Penguins), Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks), Ville Pokka (Chicago Blackhawks), Jyrki Jokipakka (Calgary Flames), Sami Lepisto (Salavat Yulaev Ufa), Esa Lindell (Dallas Stars).
Goalies – Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins), Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators), Mikko Koskinen (SKA St. Petersburg).
Some of the best and brightest prospects in the NHL, who may be appearing in the league as soon as next season, populate team Finland’s roster. Forwards Sebastian Aho (CAR) and Patrik Laine (WPG) were electric for Finland in the most recent World Junior Championship, winning their country it’s 4th gold medal in the tournament. Prospect defensemen Esa Lindell (DAL) and Ville Pokka (CHI) are both highly anticipated to play for their NHL clubs as well, ranked as being among their teams’ top defensive prospects, respectively.
Veteran Mikko Koivu will wear the C for Finland for the fourth time in international tournament, one being the gold-medal outing Finland enjoyed in Slovakia in 2011. Long-time Finnish veterans Sami Lepisto and Jussi Jolkinen will also bring more than enough experience to make up for the youth in the locker room.
The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be hosted at the Air Canada Center from Sept. 17th till Oct. 1st.