The following are notes on players for Team Finland for the World Juniors. A few players were omitted who I had no information on. I'm writing this prior to the final roster being published but I'm reasonably confident this group of players will be there.
Joel Armia, Right Wing, Buffalo Sabres (Assat-SM-Liiga): Armia missed a portion of the season so far due to an injury, but when he's been healthy he has been effective although I still wouldn't classify him as a player without faults. His upside is high end and Armia on his best day can be fun to watch but it remains to be seen if he can be a consistent force.
Aleksander Barkov, Center, 2013 draft eligible (Tappara-SM-Liiga): Barkov is having a historic 17-year-old season in Finland's top league and could be one of those rare cases of a player being a quality top-six forward in this tournament at his age. He played for Finland last year as a 16-year-old. Barkov has high-end puck skills and hockey sense although his skating could still use some work.
Markus Granlund, Center/Wing, Calgary Flames (HIFK-SM-Liiga): Granlund has been up and down this season. One scout told me that he has struggled to find his groove and pointed out the team hasn't been scoring a lot. Granlund should get a big role for Finland and with his puck skills and hockey sense he should produce.
Juuso Ikonen, Left Wing, 2013 draft eligible (Blues-SM-Liiga): Ikonen is a very talented little guy with plus or better speed and hands; he is a player who scouts praise highly for his raw talent level. His 5'9'' measurement is the main issue with him, but it's not a huge detriment considering his tools.
Artturi Lehkonen, Right Wing, 2013 draft eligible (KalPa-SM-Liiga): Lehkonen led all forwards in scoring at the Under 18's last spring and has turned heads yet again in Finland's top league. He's a very smart player with above-average speed and hands and a great shot. His only issue is his size. Depending who you talk to, he may go in the middle of the first round.
Petteri Lindbohm, Defense, St. Louis Blues (Jokerit-SM-Liiga): A sixth round pick from the Blues in the 2012 draft, Lindbohm has been a mild surprise this year. In fact, at the recent U20 tournament in November, he was on Finland's top shutdown unit and projects as a player who has moderate defensive value and should exhibit that at the tournament.
Esa Lindell, Defense, Dallas Stars (Jokerit-SM-Liiga): Lindell was seen as an upside pick in the third round by Dallas due to his high level of hockey sense. He hasn't produced so far points-wise, but he is tracking well. Lindell is a player who you don't notice much, but when he's on, he makes a lot of good plays.
Olli Maatta, Defense, Pittsburgh Penguins (London-OHL): Maatta has gotten off to a fast start, as he is one of the top scoring defensemen in the OHL, albeit on a stacked team. Maatta was this team's top defenseman last season before being knocked out in the first game. He's an extremely smart two-way player but is skating remains an issue from an output and mechanics standpoint.
Ville Pokka, Defense, New York Islanders (Karpat-SM-Liiga): Pokka has been excellent this season, logging a ton of ice time for his pro team. Pokka is a plus thinker who moves the puck well on the powerplay, and tends to play a calm, mistake-free game. His skating is below average, though.
Rasmus Ristolainen, Defense, 2013 draft eligible (TPS-SM-Liiga): Depending what scout I talk to, Ristolainen could be in their top five for the upcoming draft, or merely in their top eight. He's been a pillar for TPS this season, regularly logging over 20 minutes a game. While he's not a high-end offensive player, Ristolainen still does it all and has plenty of skills he exhibits at a high level.
Miikka Salomaki, Left Wing, Nashville Predators (Karpat-SM-Liiga): Salomaki is what one NHL source describes as a player who can go around you or through you. He's a well-rounded player with skill, defensive value, and an edge to his game. Salomaki should be a significant piece for Finland in his third World Juniors appearance.
Teuvo Teravainen, Center/Wing, Chicago Blackhawks (Jokerit-SM-Liiga): Teravainen got off to a slow start to the season after a great summer camp, and during the season he suffered an injury as well, but as of late Teravainen has been very impressive, showing his high-end potential. Teuvo is a fun player to watch as he can dazzle on any shift with his hands, speed, or vision.
Mikko Vainonen, Defense, Nashville Predators (Kingston-OHL): Vainonen is a player who NHL sources tout for his defensive value as a big, physical defenseman who positions himself well and makes a good first pass. I've heard differing opinions on his skating recently with one source praising it and another saying he isn't a good skater, with mechanical flaws.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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