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Olympic Preview: Pool B

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Olympic Preview: Pool B
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Michael Finewax, Ryan Dadoun and Corey Abbott preview all the players in Pool B including Canada, Finland, …

This is the first preview of each pool for the 2014 Olympics. Michael Finewax, Ryan Dadoun and Corey Abbott have done player profiles on every player in the tournament. We hope you enjoy it.

Click here for Pool A featuring Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States.

Click here for Pool C featuring the Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland.


AUSTRIA

Goalies:


Bernhard Starkbaum (Brynäs Gävle - SWE) The Austrian netminder is 10-4 this season in the Swedish Elite League as he has a sparkling 2.20 GAA as well as a .931 save percentage. It certainly looks from here that Starkbaum will get the start in goal for his native country. He was 23-22 for Modo last season with a 2.06 GAA and a .933 save percentage.


René Swette (KAC Klagenfurt - AUT)  Rene Swette has been the top goalie with Klagenfurt of the Austrian Leagues. The 25-year-old netminder has played in 33 games this season with a .915 save percentage and a nice 2.51 GAA.

Mathias Lange (Iserlohn - DEL) - Lange was named to the team when Fabian Weinhandl was dropped from the team. Lange was in North American for six years, playing a couple of seasons with the Billings Bulls before spending four years in college at RPI. He is currently playing for Iserlohn of the German League. The 25-year-old is 12-12 with a 2.69 GAA and a .922 save percentage this season. He is a dual citizen as he could also play for Germany.

Defensemen:

Mario Altmann (VSV Villach - AUT) - The 27 year-old defensive defenseman has spent his whole career in the Austrian League save for the 2009-10 season which he spent in Sweden. Altmann will not see power play time and has only four goals and 11 points this year for Villach.


Florian Iberer (KAC Klagenfurt - AUT) - The leading point getter among defensemen for Klagenfurt, (three ahead of former NHLer Thomas Pock) as he has 25 points. The brother of fellow Olympian Matthias, Iberer played a couple of seasons in North America but never made it above the ECHL before returning home.


Andre Lakos (Vienna Capitals - AUT) - Drafted in the third round in the 1999 Draft by New Jersey, Lakos spent plenty of time in the OHL and eventually the AHL but never played in the show. The talented offensive defenseman is 34 and has missed some time this season with injuries as he has played only 23 games split the season between the KHL's KLH Chomutov and his hometown Vienna squad. He has two goals and 14 points in 35 games this season.


Robert Lukas (EHC Linz - AUT) - The Austrians are going with a veteran blueline and Lukas is no exception as the 35-year-old will likely be going to his last Olympic games. He was part of the 2002 team in Salt Lake City where he was pointless in four games. Lukas has two goals and 14 assists in 48 games this season with a plus-21 rating.


Thomas Pöck (KAC Klagenfurt AUT) - Rangers and Islanders fans may remember the defenseman who spent parts of five seasons in the NHL, playing 59 games over four seasons with the Rangers and 59 games in one season with the Isles. He has nine goals and 22 points this season and will anchor the Austrian blueline.


Matthias Trattnig (Red Bull Salzburg - AUT) - Drafted in the fourth round in the 1998 Draft by Chicago as a defenseman, Trattnig moved to the blueline during the 2008-09 season. He played four seasons at the University of Maine but has played professionally in Europe with the exception of the 2004-05 season which he spent with Syracuse of the AHL. He had seven goals and 18 points in 68 games before returning home. He had a goal and an assist in four games at the 2002 Olympic Games.

 
Stefan Ulmer (HC Lugano - SUI) - The kid of the Austrian defensive corps is only 23. Ulmer played three seasons in the WHL for the Spokane Chiefs and has played the last four years with Lugano of the Swiss League. Ulmer has seven goals and 19 points in 44 games this season with a plus-16 rating.


Gerhard Unterluggauer (VSV Villach - AUT) - The 37-year-old defenseman spent a couple of years in the mid-90's with the Brandon Wheat Kings but went back to Austria without playing professionally in North America. He played in the 2002 Olympic Games and scored twice in four matches. Unterluggauer is playing in his fifth season with Villach and has seven goals and 32 points in 46 games.

Forwards:


Michael Grabner (New York Islanders - NHL) - Grabner has slumped this season with the Islanders with only nine goals and 20 points in 56 games. Grabner had 34 goals in his second season in the NHL but has had only 45 goals since then in 177 games. Grabner will be counted upon to give the Austrians a boost offensively and he should be a prominent player on the power play and first line.


Raphael Herburger (EHC Biel - SUI) - The 25-year-old center is playing his first season in the Swiss Elite League where he has six goals and 12 points in 42 games. He had played the last five seasons with Klagenfurter of the Austrian League and had 23 goals in 189 games over the five year span. Needless to say, if you are in an Olympic pool and need to take an Austrian, Herburger should not be your first pick.


Thomas Hundertpfund (Timrå IK - SWE) - The 24-year-old Hundertpfund is playing his first season in Sweden after spending the last five seasons with Klagenfurter. He has seven goals and 10 points in 38 games with the second division Swedish side in Timra after scoring 38 goals in 247 Austrian League games.


Matthias Iberer (EHC Linz - AUT) - As noted before, he is the brother of defenseman Florian. He played a season-plus in North America for the Fairbank Ice Dogs of the NAHL and three games with Kalamzoo of the IHL but he returned back to Austria during the 2007-08 season. The 28-year-old right winger has 11 goals and 19 points in 44 games with Linz this season.

Thomas Koch (KA C Klagenfurt - AUT) - The diminutive winger at five feet eight inches and 161 pounds is in his third season with Klagenfurt after a five year stint with Salzburg. He has 13 goals and 31 points this season after averaging over a point a game in four of his last five seasons. The 30-year-old will be counted upon for offense.


Manuel Latusa (Red Bull Salzburg - AUT) - The 30-year-old has spent his entire career in Austria. He has played with Salzburg since the 2008-09 season and has 12 goals and 31 points this season. Latusa has played in the World Cup of hockey twice and has a goal and an assist in 11 games.


Brian Lebler (EHC Linz - AUT) - Lebler was born in Penticton B.C. but spent his part of his youth in Austria where his father Ed played hockey and is a dual citizen. Lebler played four seasons at the University of Michigan from 2006-2010 before playing one season in North America split between the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL (no points in 11 games) and Elmira of the ECHL where he had two goals and five points in 20 games. He has played the last three seasons with Linz and has 26 goals and 43 points in 43 games this season.

Andreas Nodl (Red Bull Salzburg - AUT) - Nodl replaced Andreas Kristler on the Austrian roster.  Nodl played 183 games in the NHL, scoring 15 goals and 36 points for the Flyers and Hurricanes over the past five seasons before returning home this year to play for Salzburg. He has eight goals and 13 points in 28 games this season. Nodl is only 26 and was a second round pick of the Flyers in 2006. He should provide added leadership for Austria because of his NHL experience.

 
Daniel Oberkofler (EHC Linz - AUT) - The 25-year-old Oberkofler is more of a defensive forward with six goals and 24 points in 50 games this season after an eight goal and 21 point effort last season in 52 games. Do not expect a lot offensively at the Olympics from Oberkofler.

Michael Raffl ( Philadelphia Flyers - NHL) - Raffl came over to North America this season and the thought was that he would spend the entire year in the minors as he played the last two seasons in the Swedish Allsvenskan division. But he surprised everyone by sticking in the NHL and he has seen time on the first line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Raffl should see time on the first power play with Vanek and Grabner as well as top six minutes in the Olympics.

Thomas Raffl (Red Bull Salzburg - AUT) Thomas Raffl is the top scoring native Austrian in the EBEL with 21 goals and 41 points but that just puts him 16th in league scoring. The brother ? of the Flyers Michael Raffl, had his best season two years ago with 54 points and at the age of 27 is unlikely to play anywhere else in his career.

Oliver Setzinger (Lausanne HC - SUI) - Setzinger tried one season in North America as he played during the 2007-08 season with Milwaukee of the AHL where he had only a goal and a couple of assists in 21 games before heading back to the Swiss League where he has played ever since.  The 30-year-old has nine goals and 33 points in 47 games this season and could see time on the second line at the Olympics.


Thomas Vanek (New York Islanders - NHL) - The star of the Austrian team, Vanek is likely to be traded by the Islanders after the Olympics as he is slated to be an unrestricted free agent. Vanek has scored 40 or more goals twice in the NHL, and will look for a seven-year contract in excess of $50 million during his next contract. Vanek has scored 269 goals in 640 games during his NHL career and he has a very good shot at 450-plus goals if he can stay healthy over the remainder of his contract. He will play in all situations for the Austrians at the Olympics.


Daniel Welser (Red Bull Salzburg - AUT) - Welser is a 30-year-old defensive forward who has never had more than 35 points in any season. He has not even been that good over the last three years as he had only 22 points during his best season last year. This season, Welser has only 16 points in 33 games for Salzburg.

CANADA

Goalies:

Mike Smith (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL) - Smith is having a bit of an off year and he's expected to be Canada's third-string goaltender at the 2014 Winter Games.  He's played much better going into the Olympic break, though.  During his brief time in the playoffs, Smith has shown that he can play in high-pressure scenarios and he performed very well for Canada during the World Championships last year by posting a 1.65 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage in four games. 

Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Price has registered elite goalie numbers this season, but he's struggled for some patches.  However, he has righted the ship in time for the Olympics by recording two of his four shutouts in his last six outings.  He has four wins over that span and he's allowed two goals or less in each of those contests.  He has a chance to supplant Roberto Luongo for the number one goalie job by the end of the tournament, but he'll need to shake the stigma that he can't step up in big games before that happens. 

Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - Luongo has been solid in the cage for most of the season, but the Canucks limped into the Olympic break and his play suffered as a result.  He has allowed three goals or more in each of his past five outings and he lost all of them.  Luongo was between the pipes for Canada when the country won Olympic gold in Vancouver and he's expected to start the tournament as the starting goaltender.  However, it's uncertain if he'll have that role by the time the medals are handed out.

Defensemen:

Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Keith has been enjoying a Norris Trophy caliber season in Chicago this season.  He is third in the league with 45 assists and he ranks second among all defensemen with 48 points in 59 games.  Keith's mobility and his willingness to jump into the attack will make him a valuable player on the larger ice and he'll be used in all situations by Canada at the Winter Olympics. 

Shea Weber (Nashville Predators - NHL) - Weber is another Norris Trophy contender on Canada's back end.  He plays physical and he can score, which is evidenced by his 15 goals in 56 games.  His bullet shot will be featured on Canada's power play and he'll probably be matched up against the best lines of the opposition as well.  

Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Pietrangelo leads the Blues with 25:26 of average ice time per game.  He is excellent on the power play and he is more than capable of playing in all situations.  Pietrangelo has 41 points in 57 games this season.

P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Subban won the 2013 Norris Trophy but he wasn't guaranteed a spot on Canada's roster for the Olympic Games.  Canada's decision makers were reportedly concerned about his defensive play, but ultimately it was decided that he would be on the team.  Subban is excellent at rushing the puck and his skating ability should be an asset on the Olympic-sized ice. 

Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings - NHL) - Doughy can play effectively at both ends of the ice.  He isn't scoring as many points as he did when he first came into the league, but he's still a threat in the offensive zone and he can pick up points to place him among the NHL's top defensemen.  Doughty is also reliable in his own end and he can shut down the opposition's best players.

Jay Bouwmeester (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - The 30-year-old defender has gotten back on track this season.  He's on pace to top 45 points for the second time in his career and he's enjoyed success while being paired with Alex Pietrangelo in St. Louis.  Look for Canada to keep them together in Sochi. 

Marc-Edouard Vlasic (San Jose Sharks - NHL) - Vlasic serves as San Jose's shutdown defenseman and he's flourished in that role.  He is capable of chipping in offensively and he adds further depth to a talented and versatile blueline.

Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - Hamhuis is a defensive-minded depth blueliner for Canada.  He was dealing with a groin injury heading into the Olympic break but did play Saturday. He could end up spending the greater part of the tournament in the press box.

Forwards:

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins -NHL) - Crosby netted the "Golden Goal" for Canada the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver when he beat Ryan Miller of the United States in overtime.  He will be looking to lead his country to another golden victory in Sochi as the team's captain.  Crosby leads the NHL with 50 assists and 78 points in 58 games.  Canada's forward group is an embarrassment of riches and Crosby is the best of the bunch.

John Tavares (New York Islanders - NHL) - Canada is so deep at center that Tavares could end up playing on the wing in Sochi.  He is third in the NHL with 66 points in 59 contests.  Tavares is the driving force of the Islanders' offense and he'll put his talents to good use with very talented linemates as a member of Team Canada.

Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Chicago's top-line pivot has won plenty of gold as a member of Canada.  He has an Under-17 title, a World Junior Championship, a World Championship and an Olympic gold medal.  During the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, he named the Best Forward of the tournament.  Toews can do it all and he'll be a reliable player at both ends of the ice in Sochi.

Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks - NHL) - The Anaheim captain has 29 goals and 38 assists in 55 matches this campaign and he could line up as bottom-forward on Canada's roster.  It's jaw-dropping to think about.  Getzlaf is on pace to hit 90 points for the second time in his career this season and he'll make an impact in the Olympics regardless of what line he plays on. 

Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh Penguins - NHL) - Kunitz is enjoying a career year for the Penguins in 2013-14.  He has registered a personal-high of 27 goals already and he has 55 points in 58 games.  His chemistry with Sidney Crosby, in Pittsburgh, probably gave him an edge during the selection process, but he is good enough to stand on his own as well.  He's also played with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry before, so Canada's brass has options if they want to make changes.  However, that likely won't be necessary as Kunitz and Crosby should be an effective pairing for the Canadian Olympic team. 

Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Sharp has flourished on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa this season.  He has 28 goals and 58 points in 60 games, which puts him on pace for new personal bests in both categories.  He'll likely stay on a line with Toews at the Olympics and his ability to come up big in key situations could make him a Canadian hero by the time the tournament is over. 

Rick Nash (New York Rangers - NHL) - He has underperformed this season, but he went on a scoring surge after he was named to Canada's Olympic team.  Nash netted nine goals in nine games after hearing his name in Canada's selection news conference.  He has great speed for a big man and he's good defensively, which makes him very hard to handle.  It also makes him a versatile option as he can played anywhere in the lineup and he can play both winger positions. 

Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks- NHL) - Perry enters the Olympics as one of three NHLers who have hit 30 goals this season.  He isn't on the same level he was when he won the Hart Trophy in 2010-11, but he isn't that far behind.  Perry has 60 points in 60 contests and his grittiness is a key part of his game, which Canada could put to use on a goal-scoring type energy line.  He will also likely play alongside Anaheim linemate Ryan Getzlaf.

Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks - NHL) - Marleau has the odd battle with consistency, but when he's streaking in the right direction he is very hard to play against.  He has notched 23 goals and 50 points in 59 games this campaign.  If he can catch fire during the Olympics then his skill and speed will be great assets on the larger ice.  Marleau is also very good at killing penalties. 

Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - The veteran winger received his spot on Team Canada because of an injury to Tampa Bay teammate Steve Stamkos.  It isn't clear where St. Louis will slot into the lineup, but he has great speed, good leadership abilities and superb playmaking skills.  His ability to finish off plays is also unjustly underrated, so he could be a strong triggerman as well. 

Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins - NHL) - Bergeron is known for being an excellent two-way center, who excels on faceoffs and that will likely be the role he plays in Sochi.  Canada can make use of his defensive skills on the penalty kill and in shutdown roles when they play elite competition.  Bergeron is also capable of holding his own offensively, so he could be a good fit as a fourth-liner for the Canadians. 

Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars - NHL) - Benn has generated 22 goals and 51 points in 58 games this season during his first year as the captain of the Stars.  He has a great shot and plays a rugged style, which makes him an excellent power forward.  Benn will probably be counted on to provide energy and work a cycle game for Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche - NHL) - Duchene's goal production ran dry after he was named to Team Canada, but he scored twice in Colorado's last game before the Olympic break.  He leads the dramatically improved Avalanche in points this season with a total of 50 in 55 matches.  Duchene can play center or the wing and his speed likely helped him secure a spot on Canada's roster. 

Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings - NHL) - Carter enters the Olympics on a cold streak, but he has a goal scorer's touch which has helped him record 20 markers and 37 points in 49 outings this season.  Carter has gone through hot and cold stretches this season.  He could end up anywhere from the top line to the press box depending on which version shows up during the Olympics.   

FINLAND

Goalies:

Kari Lehtonen (New York Rangers – NHL) – Lehtonen has been one of the best goaltenders for years.  He’s also arguably one of the most underrated netminders going to the Olympics by virtue of the fact that he’s now 30 and has yet to play for a good NHL team.  The fact that the Stars even have a shot of making the playoffs this season is largely thanks to his efforts.  Despite that, Lehtonen is a distant third among Finland’s goaltenders, which just underscores how strong Finland is in that regard.

Antti Niemi (San Jose Sharks – NHL) – Niemi's NHL career was just getting started when the NHL broke for the 2010 Winter Olympics.  It wasn't until they came back that his career really started to take off.  He backstopped the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 2010 while he was still a rookie.  When Chicago let him slip through their fingers that summer because of their cap problems, Niemi joined the San Jose Sharks and proved his 2009-10 career wasn't a fluke.  He’s been a workhorse in San Jose and was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2013 with a 2.16 GAA and .924 save percentage in 43 games.  He’s having another strong season with a 2.39 GAA and .912 save percentage in 48 games.

Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins – NHL) – For years, Rask   was regarded as one of the best backup goaltenders in the league.  He led the league with a 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage in 45 games as a rookie, but his playing time declined in 2010-11 in part because Tim Thomas bounced back from an off-season to earn his second Vezina Trophy.  When Thomas left, Rask proved more than capable of filling the void.  He led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and posted a 1.88 GAA and .940 save percentage in 22 postseason contests.  He's been the best of Finland's goaltenders this season with a 2.11 GAA and .928 save percentage in 43 starts.

Defensemen:

Lasse Kukkonen (Karpat – FIN) – Kukkonen had six goals, 22 points, and 90 penalty minutes in 159 games with the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers, but he hasn't played in North America since the 2008-09 campaign.   Instead, he's been touring Europe, playing with four different teams across three leagues over the span of the last five seasons.  Just as he wasn't an offensive defenseman in the NHL, he typically hasn't put up many points in Europe.  This season has been an exception though as he has 11 goals and 23 points in 48 contests.  The 32-year-old is also no stranger to the international stage.  This will be his third Olympics and he has a gold medal from the 2011 World Championships.

Juuso Hietanen (Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo – KHL) – Although he started his career with Finland’s SM-liiga, it wasn’t long before he moved to the Swedish Elite League and eventually the KHL.  Hietanen's in his third season with the KH'’s Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo and has nine goals and 26 points in 50 contests.  This will be his first Winter Games, but he served Team Finland in the 2012 and 2013 World Championships.

Sami Lepisto (Yekaterinburg Automobilist – KHL) – The son of Jussi Lepisto, a former defenseman who had a 12 season career in SM-liiga and the Swedish Elite League, Sami started his career in his father's footsteps by playing for the team his Dad used to captain, Finland's Jokerit Helsinki.  The Washington Capitals claimed him with a third round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but the younger Lepisto ended up spending three more campaigns with Jokerit before heading to North America.  He went onto record six goals, 35 points, and 137 penalty minutes in 176 contests with the Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Chicago Blackhawks before heading to the KHL.  He's with Russia's Yekaterinburg Automobilist now and has 23 points and 65 penalty minutes in 49 contest this season.

Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh Penguins – NHL) – Although he was born in Finland, Maatta chose to take his talents to the OHL London Knights after they took him with the top pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft.  In the process he turned down an opportunity to play in SKA St. Petersberg's organization.  The Pittsburgh Penguins took Maatta in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and after one more season with the Knights, he made his NHL debut.  He's been one of the NHL’s top rookies this season and that’s reflected in the fact that the Metropolitan Division-leading Penguins have felt comfortable giving him a ton of playing time on both the power play and when the team’s shorthanded.  He’s also been solid offensively with six goals and 23 points in 57 contests.  Not bad for a 19-year-old.

Sami Salo (Tampa Bay Lightning – NHL) – One of the team’s veteran leaders, Salo is gearing up for his third Olympics.  He was a true diamond in the rough find when the Ottawa Senators took him with the third last pick in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.  That being said, his tenure with the Senators only lasted for four campaigns before he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Peter Schaefer.  It was in Vancouver that his career really took off as he became a leader of the team’s defense while recording between 25 and 37 points for seven straight seasons from 2002-03 through 2009-10.  Now with the Tampa Bay Lightning and 39 years old, he’s slowed down with just 10 points in 49 contests.

Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia Flyers – NHL) – One of the best offensive defenseman that Finland has ever produced, the start of Timonen’s career was just as humble as Salo's.  He was taken by the Los Angeles Kings with the 250th pick in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft and is one of 15 players from that draft class to play in at least 1,000 NHL contests.  The fact that he reached that mark is far more impressive when you keep in mind that he was 23 when he made his NHL debut.  In fact, he spent five campaigns after he was drafted in the SM-liiga, but after he participated in Finland's bronze medal run in the 1998 Winter Games, the Kings traded his rights to the brand new Nashville Predators.  It wasn't long before he established himself as an elite defenseman with the new club and his success only continued when he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006-07.  In fact, from 2001-02 through the 2011-12 campaign, he never recorded less than 37 points or played in fewer than 76 contests in a single season.  This has been a bit of a rougher season for him as he has two goals and 19 points in 57 contests.  It’s worth adding that this will be his fifth and likely last trip to the Olympics.  He already has two bronze medals and a silver.

Ossi Vaananen (Jokerit Helsinki – FIN) – Vaananen is technically a veteran of the Winter Olympics, but he’s never been a factor in them.  He played in only two games during the 2002 Games and won a silver medal in 2006 without ever playing in a contest.  He was taken in the second round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and went on to record 68 points and 482 penalty minutes in 479 games, but he hasn’t played in North America since the 2008-09 campaign.  Instead he's in his fourth straight season with the SM-liiga's Jokerit Helsinki and has four points and 22 penalty minutes in 38 contests.

Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks – NHL) – Vatanen was taken in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, but he didn’t immediately head to North America.  Instead Vatanen spent two seasons with JyP HT Jyvaskyla of SM-liiga after he was drafted and was named the league’s top defenseman in both of those campaigns.  His success continued in 2012-13 when he moved to the AHL Norfolk Admirals.  He was named to the AHL First All-Star Team with nine goals and 45 points in 62 contests.  He got a taste of the NHL in that campaign, but 2013-14 has been the season where he's firmly established himself with the Ducks by recording six goals and eight assists in 41 games.

Forwards:

Juhamatti Aaltonen (Karpat – FIN) – Another alumni from the Finnish team that won the gold medal in the 2011 World Championship, Aaltonen is participating in his first Olympics.  He got his start in the SM-liiga and was tied for seventh in scoring in 2009-10 with 49 points in 58 contests.  After that campaign, he spent two seasons in the KHL and one in the Swedish Elite League, before returning back to the Finnish league.  He has 23 goals and 31 points in 35 contests with Karpat this season.  Aaltonen was also selected by the St. Louis Blues in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, but he never ended up playing professionally in North America.

Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers – NHL) – Some of the best forwards Finland has ever produced – Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Olli Jokinen – are in the twilight of their careers.  It’s a lot to ask of him, but Barkov has the potential to follow in their footsteps.  At the age of 17, he was one of the SM-liiga’s top players with 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games.  After the Florida Panthers surprised a lot of people by taking him ahead of Seth Jones in the stacked 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Barkov scored in his NHL debut on Oct. 3 to become the youngest player to collect his first goal since 1944.  Although Florida has been anemic offensively this season, Barkov has gone on to have a solid rookie campaign with eight goals and 24 points in 54 contests.

Mikael Granlund (Minnesota Wild – NHL) – Another member of Finland’s promising young guard, Granlund is primarily known as the Minnesota Wild prospect who's really started to break into his own this season with five goals and 28 points in 46 contests.  However, it’s worth highlighting the fact that he had some strong showings in international events.  He had six goals and 26 points in 12 contests between the 2009 and 2010 Under-18 World Championships and added another three goals and 10 points in 12 contests in two main World Junior Championships.  Granlund participated in his first adult World Championships in 2011 when he was still just 19 and recorded nine points in nine games in Finland’s gold medal run.  That put him on par with Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr, and ahead of guys like Ilya Kovalchuk and Mikko Koivu.

Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh Penguins – NHL) – Jokinen has had an up-and-down career.  He certainly wasn’t highly regarded when he was young, as evidenced by the fact that the Dallas Stars took him in with the 192nd overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, but after a handful of strong seasons with SM-liiga, he finally came to North America in 2005-06 and ended up scoring 17 goals and 55 points in 81 games as a rookie.  That same season he helped lead Finland to a silver medal in the Winter Olympics and a bronze in the World Championship.  However, rather than building off that early success, his offensive numbers atrophied over the next few years as he was simultaneously passed from Dallas to Tampa Bay and then Carolina.  He broke out in his first full season with the Hurricanes in 2009-10, scoring 30 goals and 65 points, but once again he started to decline after that until Carolina placed him on waivers.  Now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he has again bounced back with 16 goals and 42 points in 58 games in 2013-14.

Olli Jokinen (Winnipeg Jets – NHL) – First off, he’s not related to Jussi Jokinen.  Olli Jokinen career has been somewhat similar in terms of its extreme ups and downs, but the difference is that Olli enjoyed far greater highs.  At his best he was one of the NHL's top players, scoring over 30 goals in three straight campaigns from 2005-06 to 2007-08.  During that period he also finished in the top-20 in scoring twice and had a combined 251 points in 246 games.  His career has waned significantly since, but he still is an offensive factor with 13 goals and 32 points in 60 contests.  He’s also participated in three previous Winter Games and has scored 11 goals and 15 points in 18 contests.

Leo Komarov (Moscow Dynamo – KHL) – The Toronto Maple Leafs took him in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but Komarov played with the SM-liiga's Pelicans for three campaigns after that before heading to the KHL rather than North America.  He finally decided to give North America a chance in 2012-13 and ended up with four goals and nine points in 42 contests with the Maple Leafs in the shortened campaign.  He helped Toronto kill penalties and was willing to throw his body around, but he was serving as a bottom-six forward and felt a return to the KHL would provide him with a better opportunity to showcase his skills ahead of the Olympics.  He has certainly found success in the KHL with 12 goals and 31 points in 48 games this season.

Petri Kontiola (Chelyabinsk Traktor – KHL) – Kontiola came to North America in 2007-08 in an attempt to establish himself with the Chicago Blackhawks.  He had already been an offensive leader with Tappara Tampere of the SM-liiga and he was similarly effective in the AHL with 68 points in 66 contests as a rookie.  He ended up playing in 12 games with Chicago that season and collected five assists, but he never made it to the NHL again and in 2009-10, he decided to head to the KHL.  In that league, he's once again been an offensive force and is perhaps most noteworthy for leading the league with 19 points in 25 playoff games in 2013.  This season he has 14 goals and 35 points in 50 matches.

Lauri Korpikoski (Phoenix Coyotes – NHL) – Korpikoski was taken with the 19th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers in 2004.  He made his NHL debut with them in 2008-09 and went on to record six goals and 14 points in 68 games.  As it turned out that campaign would mark the end of his tenure with the Rangers as they traded him to the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2009 in exchange for Enver Lisin.  He’s been a solid, but not remarkable forward with the Coyotes ever since and has seven goals and 20 points in 42 contests in 2013-14.

Jori Lehtera (Novosibirsk Sibir – KHL) – The St. Louis Blues claimed Lehtera in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, but the 26-year-old only ended up spending seven games with the AHL Peoria Rivermen in 2008-09.  Other than that he's spent his entire career in the SM-liiga and the KHL.  He’s been a dominant force in those leagues though.  In his final SM-liiga campaign in 2009-10, he led the league with 69 points – a good 15 points ahead of the field.  In the KHL, he has reached the 40-point mark in back-to-back campaigns.

Antti Pihlstrom (Ufa Salavat Yulayev – KHL) – After firmly establishing himself in the SM-liiga, Pihlstrom decided to head to North America in 2007-08 before his 23rd birthday.  He hadn't been drafted, but he had scored 27 goals and 45 points in 78 games as a rookie with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals.  He also appeared in his first AHL game that season.  He went on to score two goals and seven points in 53 contests with the Nashville Predators in 2008-09, but he returned to Europe the following season.  He has recorded 22 and 24 points in his last two campaigns with Ufa Salavat Yulayev.

Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina Hurricanes – NHL) – Ruutu is known for bringing a nice blend of grit and skill to the table.  At his height in 2010-11, he had 57 points while ranking second in the league with 309 hits in 82 games with the Carolina Hurricanes.  He took a step back in 2011-12 though with 34 points and 151 hits in 72 contests and missed most of the shortened campaign due to a hip injury.  He’s struggled this season too with just five goals and 16 points in 52 contests.  It’s worth adding that Ruutu has also frequently served his country on the international stage and has accumulated 10 medals (an Olympic bronze, a World Cup silver, four World Championship medals including a gold, three World Juniors, and a bronze in the World Under-18 Championships).

Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks – NHL) – Selanne isn’t just the best player to ever come out of Finland, he’s one of the best players period.  Only 10 players in the history of the NHL have ever scored more goals and only 14 are ahead of him in points.  Although he’s toyed with retirement several times before and seems committed to calling it quits after the 2013-14 campaign, Selanne managed to perform at an elite through his late 30s and into his early 40s.  At the age of 43, he’s clearly slowed down, but he still has seven goals and 20 points in 47 games this season.  This will be his fifth trip to the Olympics and one last chance to collect one of the few awards that has eluded him: an Olympic gold medal.

Jarkko Immonen (Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo – KHL) – Immonen was a member of Finland's bronze medal winning team in 2010, but he didn’t make the country’s initial cut this time around.  It wasn’t until the Finnish needed a pair of injury replacements for Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula that Immonen was named to the squad.  Immonen hasn’t played in the NHL since 2006-07 and his career only lasted 20 contests.  That being said, he’s found success both on the European and international stage.  He has 13 goals and 36 points in 50 KHL contests this season and those aren’t unusual numbers for him.  He’s also been a regular on Finland’s World Championships squad and led them to a gold medal in 2011 with nine goals and 12 points in nine contests.

Sakari Salminen (Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo – KHL) – Like Immonen, Salminen was a last minute injury replacement.  The two are in their first campaign as KHL teammates and between them, Salminen has been the bigger threat offensively with 18 goals and 46 points in 50 KHL contests.  That put him in sixth place in the KHL’s scoring race.  This will be the 25-year-old’s first Olympics and he’s a little light on international experience in general.  After participating in the World Junior Championships in 2008, he didn’t take part in his first adult Championships until 2013.

NORWAY

Goalies:

Lars Haugen (Dinamo Minsk - BLR/KHL) - The 26-year-old is the veteran in net as Volden and Soberg are 21 and 20 respectively. Haugen plays for Dinamo Minsk in the KHL where he 5-12 this season with a 2.67 GAA and a .910 save percentage. His stats for Dinamo were a lot better last season with a 13-7-1 record to go with an eye-popping 1.81 GAA and a .933 save percentage. He looks to be the starter for the Norwegians in Sochi.


Lars Volden (Espoo Blues - FIN) - Volden is in his second year of action with Espoo of the Finnish Elite League. He was drafted in the sixth round by Boston in 2011 and the 21 year-old has played well in a limited role. He was 4-4-1 last season with a 2.01 GAA and a .927 save percentage while this season his GAA is 2.59 with a .908 save percentage in 16 games.


Steffen Soberg (Valerenga Oslo - NOR) - Soberg was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 Draft by the Washington Capitals but still is playing in the Norwegian League which is not considered elite hockey. Soberg has played 34 games for Valerenga with a 2.16 GAA and a .915 save percentage. He played three games for Norway at the World U20 Championships in 2011 with a .913 save percentage which was ninth best in the tournament, better than Robin Lehner (.906) and Philipp Grubauer (.888).

Defensemen:


Alexander Bonsaksen  (Valerenga Oslo - NOR) - Bonsaksen is a 27-year-old defenseman who played a couple of seasons in the Swedish Elite League with Modo before returning to his native Norway for the last three seasons. He is a defensive defenseman so do not expect to hear his name very often in the scoring summary.


Jonas Holos (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl - RUS) - Holos played half a  season in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche in the 2010-11 season but then returned to Europe where he played a couple of seasons in the Swedish Elite League before joining Lokomotiv Yaroslavl  of the KHL this season where he has five goals and 11 points in 48 games. He will likely play the point on the Norwegian power play at the Sochi Games.   


Henrik Solberg (Stavanger Oilers - NOR) - The 26-year-old blueliner has spent his entire career in Norway so he could be overwhelmed in the Olympics where the pace of the play will just be a lot quicker. Solberg had three goals and 10 points in 30 games this season.


Daniel Sorvik (Valerenga Oslo - NOR) - Sorvik is only 23 and also has spent his career playing for Valerenga of the Norwegian League.  He has five goals and 19 points in 34 games with a plus-19 rating. 


Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (Farjestad Karlstad - SWE) - A third round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002, Tollefsen played five seasons  in the NHL, ending his career in the Detroit farm system after being traded from Philadelphia in exchange for Ville Leino. He returned to Europe and has been playing in Sweden since 2010. He played for Norway at the Olympics in 2010 where he had 25 penalty minutes in three games as he had all 25 for his hit on Slovakia's Lubos Bartecko.


Mats Trygg (Lorenskog - NOR) - The 37-year-old offensive defenseman was quite impressive in the World Cup in 2012 as he had five goals and an assist in eight games. The veteran has played in Germany and Sweden during most of his career but returned to his native Norway this season. Look for Trygg to play the point on the power play in Sochi.


Henrik Odegaard  (Missouri Mavericks - CHL) - This is Odegaard's first season in North America and he has played his season with Missouri of the CHL and one game for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. He has three assists in 36 games with Missouri but he has never been an offensive defenseman, even in the lowly Norwegian Leagues.  Look for Odegaard to be a stay-at-home defenseman in Sochi.

Forwards:


Morten Ask (Valerenga Oslo - NOR) - Ask is a third or fourth line center and he'll likely play against the opponents top line. He played 13 games with Las Vegas over a couple of seasons but that was almost 10 years ago and his scoring prowess has diminished. The 33-year-old has had some success offensively in the last couple of seasons in Norway as he had 39 points in 27 games last season and 47 points in 33 games in 2013-14.

 
Anders Bastiansen (Farjestad Karlstad - SWE) - Bastiansen is another 33-year-old center who is a good defensive player. He has played in the Swedish Elite League since the 2004-05 season but is not much of a scorer. He had seven points in 31 games for Farjestad heading into the Olympics.


Robin Dahlstrom (Orebro HK - SWE) -The 26-year-old has played the last three seasons in Sweden, mostly in the second division where he has been more of  a defensive forward. He has only two goals in 25 games for Orebro this season. This is his first Olympics.


Kristian Forsberg (MODO Ornskoldsvik - SWE) - This is the second Olympics for Forsberg who was held scoreless in four games in Vancouver. Forsberg is a defensive forward as his best offensive season in Sweden was last year when he had four goals and 11 points in 53 games. The 27-year-old has five goals and eight points for Modo this season.

Mads Hansen (Storhamar Dragons - NOR) - Hansen is one of the veterans on the Norwegian side as the 35-year-old returned to Norway to play this season after seven years in Sweden playing for Brynas. He was not a big scorer in Sweden as his best season was in 2008-09 when he had 14 goals and eight helpers. Hansen scored once in the 2010 Olympics.

Fredrik Lystad Jacobsen (Storhamar - NOR) - Jacobsen has replaced Marius Holtet who was named to the original team in early January.  Jacobsen, who will turn 24 during the tournament, has played his career in Norway. He could be a healthy scratch during the Olympics, barring an injury.   

Sondre Olden (Valerenga Oslo - NOR) - Olden was a third round pick by Toronto in the 2011 Draft but the Maple Leafs released him because he struggled with the pace of play and his skating never improved from his draft year. He played one season in the OHL with the Erie Otters where he had 11 goals and 32 points in 48 games. He has played the last two seasons with Valerenga of the Norwegian League and has 48 points with 22 goals in 34 games this season.


Ken Andre Olimb (DEG Dusseldorf - GER) - Olimb is a 25-year-old forward and is the brother of Mathis.  Olimb is playing his first season in Germany where he has nine goals and 24 points. Olimb played the previous three seasons in Sweden where he had 36 goals and 95 points in 143 games with Leksand of the Allsvenskan League.


Mathis Olimb (Frolunda Gothenburg - SWE) - Olimb saw action in the AHL during the 2010-11 season where he had 10 goals and 32 points in 60 games with the Rockford IceDogs.  He returned to Sweden the following year and has now played four seasons for Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League where he has 33 goals and 122 points in 186 games. This is the second Olympics for Olimb who had two assists in four games during the Vancouver Games.


Mats Rosseli Olsen (Frolunda Gothenburg - SWE) - The speedy winger has a lot of offensive talent but the 22-year-old has been a slow starter in the Swedish Elite League as he has six goals and 14 points in 45 games after a three goal, nine point performance in 54 games last season with Frolunda.

Niklas Roest (BIK Karlskoga - SWE-2) - The 27-year-old left winger is playing in his first season in the Swedish Allsvenskan League after playing in Norway to start his career. He is not being counted on to score as his one goals and seven points this season with Karlskoga will attestto .

Martin Roymark (Farjestad Karlstad - SWE) - Roymark has played the last five seasons in Sweden and his best season thus far was in 2010-11 when he had 14 goals and 23 points for Timra in 55 games. This season he has seven goals and 11 points in 46 games for Farjestad. Roymark in now 27 and played in the 2010 Olympics where he was pointless in four games.

Per-Age Skroder (MODO Ornskoldsvik - SWE) - The veteran of the Norwegian squad played only two shifts in the 2010 Olympics before getting hurt against Canada and missing the rest of the tournament. He has been a gifted scorer in the Swedish Elite League over his long career as he has 236 goals and 469 points in 750 games. He has not scored as often as he enters the latter stages of his career as he has only eight goals this season with 11 assists in 43 games with Modo.

Patrick Thoresen (SKA St. Petersburg - RUS) - The only member of the Norwegian team to be playing in the KHL, Thoresen played 106 games in the NHL mostly with the Oilers and had six goals and 24 points. He has played the last five seasons in the KHL, and has been an above average scorer with 98 goals and 242 points in 240 games. Thoresen led the Norwegians in scoring during the 2010 Olympics as he had five assists in four games.

Mats Zuccarello (New York Rangers - NHL) - The best player that Norway has ever produced, the diminutive Zuccarello has starred with the Rangers this season with 15 goals and 43 points. He had a goal and two assists in four games at the 2010 Olympics and will lead the squad this season as he will play on the top line and head up the power play. The next few years should be the 26-year-old's most productive in the NHL.

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