Team Finland announced their final roster decisions for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey tournament.
High-end prospect Patrik Laine stood out amongst Finland’s picks. He is considered one of the top players available in the 2016 NHL Draft and a potential sleeper choice for the No. 1 overall pick.
Interestingly the team brain trust led by general manager Jere Lehtinen and assistant general manager Jarmo Kekalainen didn’t take Jesse Puljujarvi, another draft eligible player who is also considered one of the top talents available for 2016.
Both Laine and Puljujarvi led Finland to a World Junior gold medal this past year.
Other additions included goaltender Mikko Koskinen along with defensemen Jyrki Jokipakka, Sami Lepisto and Ville Pokka. Forward additions were Sebastian Aho, Erik Haula and Laine.
Finland made their first 16 roster selections on March 2.
Here is the full roster for Team Finland
(Ed. note: Bolded names are final additions.)
G Mikko Koskinen, SKA St. Petersburg – New York Islanders hold NHL Rights *
G Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
D Jyrki Jokipakka, Calgary Flames*
D Sami Lepisto, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL) *
D Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars
D Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
D Ville Pokka, Rockford IceHogs – Chicago Blackhawks hold NHL Rights *
D Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
D Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks
F Sebastian Aho, Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga) – Carolina Hurricanes own NHL Rights*
F Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
F Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks
F Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
F Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild
F Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers
F Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
F Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Lauri Korpikoski, Edmonton Oilers
F Patrik Laine, Tappara Tempere (SM-liiga), 2016 NHL Draft prospect*
F Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
F Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks
• Seeing the 6-foot-4, 209-pound Laine play against NHL professionals before his first league game is going to be a treat.. Imagine if Laine is picked No. 1 overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs and then plays at Air Canada Centre in this tournament. TSN’s Bob McKenzie has been bullish on Laine, noting before the World Championships that the young scoring winger had closed in on top prospect Auston Matthews, though Matthews seems to still be the consensus top pick. Regardless of which team takes Laine, he’ll be able to show his scoring chops against the best players in the world in this tournament. Laine had 13 points in seven games to lead Finland in their World Junior triumph this past year. In the World Championships he had 12 points in 10 games.
• The excitement of the Laine selection is tempered slightly by Finland’s decision to not take Puljujarvi. Both players were important components to the Finnish World Junior team and are considered Finland’s future hockey stars. Puljujarvi is less flashy than Laine, but had 17 points in the World Juniors this past year.
• After Finland announced their first 16 players, the 25-year-old Haula went on a nice stretch where he picked up five goals and 11 points in 18 regular season games. Haula seemed to find his groove under interim coach John Torchetti and in the Wild’s first-round playoff loss he picked up four points in five games.
• Finland has some of the top young talent in the world and a lot of those high-end players were not picked. These included Maple Leafs prospect Kasperi Kapanen, Colorado Avalanche prospect Mikko Rantanen, Winnipeg Jets young forward Joel Armia, and Nashville Predators rookie Miikka Salomaki.
• Aho was picked in the second-round of the 2015 NHL by the Hurricanes and was another member of that strong Finnish World Junior team. He had 14 points and nine assists in seven games playing with Laine and Puljujarvi. He also took part in the World Championships where he had seven points in 10 games. At 5-foot-11 he's a bit undersized, but is considered a savvy two-way player.
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