Mar 21, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Ville Leino (23) before the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Leafs 5-4 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Team Finland Preview Sochi 2014

 

The countdown for Sochi 2014 has officially begun! With the NHL recently allowing their players to participate in the Olympics, it’s time to start projecting team depth charts. Today, I will be taking a look at Team Finland, and project their Olympic roster. Believe it or not, Finland has medalled more times than any other team since the NHL has allowed its players to participate in the Olympics. So to say the least, expectations will be high for the Fins come game time.

The forwards for Team Finland are extremely intriguing. You have some older veterans, such as Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, who are world class players. Add in some top prospects like Mikael Granlund and Aleksander Barkov to go along with some seasoned veterans who are in the prime of their careers. Here are my selections for the 13 forwards for Team Finland

Valtteri FilppulaMikko Koivu—Mikael Granlund
Ville Leino—Saku Koivu—Teemu Selanne
Lauri KorpikoskiJarkko Immonen—Aleksander Barkov
Leo KomarovSean BergenheimTuomo Ruutu
Olli Jokinen

There is still a lot of time for players who are not on this list to prove themselves, so things can obviously change. Poor play and injuries can change what this roster looks like. A big question for the forwards is if Ville Leino can play like he once did at the beginning of his career. Even if he can replicate his play from this past season and stay healthy, he will be a solid second liner for Team Finland. Also, this fourth line can be very dynamic as they cover all aspects of the game. Energy, physicality, defense and some offense, this fourth line has the potential to be very dangerous for the Fins.

The key to success for Team Finland will be their defense. Although they won’t be overly physical, they have a nice balance of offense and defense, and should thrive on special teams. Led by veterans such as Toni Lydman and Kimmo Timonen, the Fins will be a tough team to generate scoring chances against them. This is what I think their defense will look like, but again things could change.

Toni Lydman—Olli Maatta
Kimmo Timonen—Sami Salo
Rasmus Ristolainen—Sami Vatanen
Joni Pitkanen

The strength for Team Finland is by far their goalies. Management will have a very tough decision when it comes down to choosing three net minders. I left Pekka Rinne and Nicklas Backstrom off the list; however, all three jobs are up for grabs, and things can change. At this point in time, here are my choices:

Tuukka Rask
Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

As you can see, Team Finland will be contending for a medal at the Olympics. With a group of solid forwards, built on solid defense and strong goaltending, I predict Finland will be competing for the Bronze medal. Only time will tell what Team Finland will look like, but with an abundance of talent, skill and leadership all around, the Fins will be in contention for a medal.

Tags: Finland NHL Olympics

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