Olympic outlook: Finland
Tab Bamford takes a look at what the 2014 Finnish Winter Olympic team could look
CHICAGO, IL -- Last week, we started looking ahead to the 2014 Winter
Olympics by evaluating how the United States' roster might look in
Sochi. Now, it's time to look at how Finland's roster might take shape
In 2010, Finland finished on the medal stand, defeating Slovakia 5-3
in the bronze medal game. They had a good tournament, led by Minnesota
netminder Niklas Backstrom and forward Niklas Hagman, who scored a
team-leading four goals in six games in Vancouver. Three years later,
the likely roster has not changed much for the Finnish, who could be
looking at these Olympics being the final push from an older group of
One player from the 2010 team, defenseman Toni Lydman, is expected to
retire and a few others players -- specifically Teemu Selanne -- could
be taking their final tour around the NHL. How will age play a factor
in Finland's attempt to improve on their bronze?
Returning Goaltender: Niklas Backstrom Additions: Pekka Rinne (s), Antti Niemi
Finland could be as strong between the pipes as any roster in Sochi.
Rinne projects as the likely starter, but it's hard to discount
Backstrom leading the team to the bronze in 2010 and Niemi winning the
Stanley Cup a few months later as a member of the Blackhawks.
Health is a major concern looking forward, though, as Rinne and
Backstrom finished their 2013 seasons injured. If one of these three
is injured, Finland could look to Tuukka Rask, Kari Lehtonen or Antti
Raanta (who signed with Chicago this spring). Indeed, it could be hard
to keep Rask off the roster even with Backstrom, Niemi and Rinne
Returning Defensemen: Kimmo Timmonen, Sami Salo, Joni Pitkanen,
Lasse Kukkonen, Sami Lepisto Additions: Teemu Laakso, Ossi Vaananen
Likely to be one of the older bluelines in the 2014 Games, Finland
will have a lot of veteran leadership returning from their 2010 squad.
They could bring back almost their entire group from 2010 if Lydman
wants to represent his country a few months after stepping away from
the NHL. Laakso and Vaananen, a second round pick of the Coyotes in
1998 with 479 NHL games on his resume, could be the two that fill in
the back end.
Laakso, who will turn 26 later in August, registered nine points in 49
games for Cherepovets Severstal of the KHL last year. He has played in
17 NHL games, most recently nine with Nashville during the 2011-12
season. Vaananen, who turned 33 today, has spent the last three
seasons with Jokerit Helsinki (SM-liiga), where he was a teammate of
Jarkko Ruutu, Erik Karlsson and Valtteri Filppula during the lockout.
Returning Forwards: Teemu Selanne, Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu,
Valterri Filppula, Niklas Hagman, Tuomo Ruutu, Jarkko Ruutu, Olli
Jokinen, Antti Miettinen Additions: Jussi Jokinen, Sean Bergenheim, Lori Korpikoski,
Finland will have a group of forwards loaded with international
experience. As was the case on the blueline, there won't be many
available spots for new faces, but there are a few that stand out as
quality candidates. Jokinen, Bergenheim and Korpikoski have been
productive at the NHL level since the 2010 Games, and should fit in
The wild card in Granlund, who, at 21, could be the son of a few of
his potential teammates; Selanne played his first NHL game with
Winnipeg the year Granlund was born. But he's a dynamic player who
could lead the next generation for Finland.