Finland are normally everyone's secret second team, after Team Canada. I want NMers to change that, and make them your third team, behind the Hansen-and-Sbisa inspired Team Europe. Finland are nice, polite, inoffensive, and produce one heck of a roster. From such a small population, they definitely hit the heights. Let's take a look at their roster now.
Who exactly are Team Finland?
They are GM-ed by Jere Lehtinen, one of the nation's all-time greats; he is joined as NHL alumni on this management team by Teppo Numminen, with the remainder of the management coming from a Finnish league background. A quiet, self-effacing, typically-Finnish team that will really sweat the small stuff.
Which Canucks should I look out for?
Sadly there are none, although with our need for a left winger the one free agent on this roster, Lauri Korpikoski, may well get a look from Jim Benning.
Jokinen - Barkov - Laine
Aho - Koivu - Granlund
Donskoi - Teravainen - Haula
Korpikoski - Filppula - Komarov
Maata - Ristolainen
Lepisto - Vatanen
Jokipakka - Lindell
Rask - Rinne - Koskinen
What can we look forward to with this team?
- For one, I have zero idea how Team Finland is going to line up - those projections are a complete guess! But they have a lot of young talent that young find a place on the North American side: Laine, Teravainen, Maata, Barkov. This is an intriguing side and I will be hoping for a few shock results from them.
- Finland appear to be well-set down the middle, but less talented on the wings; aside from Laine and the experienced Jussi Jokinen, there are no true scorers there. They may have to rely on that top line for scoring.
- The D has some skills. Maata and Ristolainen are as good as you can get in terms of young, capable, puck-moving D. Vatanen is almost the veteran aged 25 - this unit will play together for the next 8 years, bar Lepisto.
- Rask and Rinne, will they be the goalies of old, or the goalies of now? Two years ago I'd have pegged this as one of the best goalie tandems in the competition; now I'd rank them 5/6th. They need these guys to come up big.
How will they do?
While they would hope for a semi-final spot, they are in a competitive group, and one that has deeper and more talented teams up against them. If their goalies can catch fire, some low-scoring wins may see them progress further than thought possible.
Group stage exit, but without shame.