Finland Olympic roster a mix of young and old

Team Finland announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. Who made it and how will this team fare?

On the heels of a title at the world juniors, Finland trotted out its Olympic roster for Sochi, but this one doesn’t have anywhere as near as intimidating a defense. At the under-20s, the Finns had excellent blueliners, but the collection assembled for the Winter Games features a couple veterans at the ends of their NHL careers (Sami Salo and Kimmo Timonen), a couple young guns (Olli Maatta and Sami Vatanen) and some serviceable if unspectacular players from Europe. That depth may become an issue, though at least the Euro-based players will be well-versed in playing ‘D’ on the bigger ice surface.

Goaltending will be excellent, with recent Stanley Cup winners Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask (though Rask was only the starter when Boston lost the final) plus Kari Lehtonen of Dallas, who has extensive national team experience over the years. Finland may be the only country that could lose a Pekka Rinne and not be worried about it.

Up front, Teemu Selanne will play in a record-tying sixth Olympics (fellow Finn Raimo Helminen was the other), but Anaheim buddy Saku Koivu withdrew from consideration due to the lingering recovery he’s going through for a concussion. Younger brother Mikko Koivu made the cut, but an ankle injury puts his participation in doubt right now. Nonetheless, this forwards corps will be big, nasty and well-rounded with a mix of skilled scorers, grinding agitators and national heroes. There may not be a Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin type, but Finland has done very well at the World Championship lately and that will no doubt help cohesion.

The biggest X-factors will come from the youth. Florida’s Aleksander Barkov is quickly establishing himself as a very good young center with man size and man strength, while Mikael Granlund has historically found more success on bigger ice in Europe than he has so far in the NHL with Minnesota, though he is still in the infancy of his career here.
That patented Finnish grit will also be on full display, particularly with former Toronto Maple Leafs agitator Leo Komarov, now in the KHL. It goes without saying there won’t be many NHL players excited to see him again when they arrive in Sochi.

READ ALSO:  Canucks hope to return to Vancouver with commanding series lead against Nashville
Juhamatti Aaltonen 6’0″/196lbs 6/4/85 Karpat (Fin)
Aleksander Barkov 6’3″/209lbs 9/2/95 Florida (NHL)
Valtteri Filppula 6’0″/195lbs 3/20/84 Tampa Bay (NHL)
Mikael Granlund 5’10″/180lbs 2/26/92 Minnesota (NHL)
Jussi Jokinen 5’11″/198lbs 4/1/83 Pittsburgh (NHL)
Olli Jokinen 6’2″/210lbs 12/5/78 Winnipeg (NHL)
Mikko Koivu 6’2″/217lbs 3/12/83 Minnesota (NHL)
Leo Komarov 5’10″/187lbs 1/23/87 Dyn. Moscow (KHL)
Petri Kontiola 6’0″/204lbs 10/4/84 Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Lauri Korpikoski 6’1″/205lbs 7/28/86 Phoenix (NHL)
Jori Lehtera 6’2″/191lbs 12/23/87 Novosibirsk (KHL)
Antti Pihlstrom 5’11″/190lbs 10/22/84 Ufa (KHL)
Tuomo Ruutu 6’0″/205lbs 2/16/83 Carolina (NHL)
Teemu Selanne 6’0″/198lbs 7/3/70 Anaheim (NHL)
Juuso Hietanen 5’10″/187lbs 6/14/85 Novgorod (KHL)
Lasse Kukkonen 6’1″/190lbs 9/18/81 Karpat (Fin)
Sami Lepisto 6’1″/193lbs 10/17/84 Yekaterinburg (KHL)
Olli Maatta 6’2″/206lbs 8/22/94 Pittsburgh (NHL)
Sami Salo 6’3″/215lbs 9/2/74 Tampa Bay (NHL)
Kimmo Timonen 5’10″/194lbs 3/18/75 Philadelphia (NHL)
Ossi Vaananen 6’4″/215lbs 8/18/80 Jokerit (Fin)
Sami Vatanen 5’10″/180lbs 6/3/91 Anaheim (NHL)
Kari Lehtonen 6’4″/217lbs 11/16/83 Dallas (NHL)
Antti Niemi 6’2″/210lbs 8/29/83 San Jose (NHL)
Tuukka Rask 6’3″/185lbs 3/10/87 Boston (NHL)