World Cup of Hockey: Team Finland final roster announced
After success at the Under 18, World Juniors and World Championship, all eyes will be on Finland in their first best-on-best tournament since their breakthrough on the World Hockey scene
Finnish hockey is riding high right now, even if they missed the triple as they lost the final in the World Championships to Canada.
The question is how good will they be when all the NHL players are in the tournament. Finland's high is currently in the development with golds in the Under 18 and World Junior Championships. New Coach Lauri Marjamäki, and his staff who includes Jere Lehtinen, Teemu Selänne , Saku Koivu and Jarmo Kekäläinen, has had the difficult decision to decide about if he wants to bring with him the three lion cubs of Puljujärvi-Aho-Laine to the team with the three forward positions that was left open and in the end he did decide:
Mikko Koskinen, Jyrki Jokipakka, Sami Lepistö, Ville Pokka, Erik Haula, Sebastian Aho and Patrik Laine.
The Finnish team has players from four different leagues, NHL, AHL, KHL and Liiga (even if it can be argued that Laine and Aho may be NHL players shortly after the tournament starts).
The one player that stands out as missing is the third part of the lion cubs, Jesse Puljujärvi, but the writing was on the wall after having been left out of the World Championship squad. No doubt this has to do with the post WJC "hangover" something neither Patrik Laine nor Sebastian Aho suffered from, but they rather stepped up their game after the World Juniors.
"There are a lot of good players who were excluded", said Marjamäki when he commented on the Puljujärvi omission to IL-TV.
However, Marjamäki reminded everyone that the team could still subject to change, if one of the players gets injured or opts out.
The final four should be a reachable target even if the recent success has players and fans dreaming about more. The problem for Finland will be defence, as in not many defenders on the Finnish side would be considered for any of the other teams. Still, the Finnish team will be one team that will have a lot of eyes on it after the recent success in international play.