After the NHL NHLPA announces thatMany wondered who would step in to fill the void left behind by the likes of Sebastian Aho, Patrik Leine and Roope Hintz, NHL players, not going to the 2022 Olympics. Finland’s hockey history has been long. Finland has produced some of the most prominent hockey stars of all time. They still had many top names from Europe and Russia, even without the NHL players.
Finland’s Leijonat players were announced Jan 20. The team will consist of 18 Kontinental players (KHL), five National League (NLA), and two players from Finnish Liiga.
Finland will be playing Group C. It was ranked as the third seed heading into the 2022 Olympics. They will be Jukka Jalonen coachedHe led Team Finland to bronze at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Some names are found in the forward lines that will be familiar to North American fans. These names are Valtteri Filppula (Leo Komarov), and Markus Granlund.
Filppula was a member of the NHL from 2005-06 to the 2020-21 season. He split his time between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders, and the Philadelphia Flyers.
In 2008, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. He played 1,056 NHL matches, scoring 197 goals and 333 assists. Filppula was part of the 2010 bronze-medal winning Finnish Olympic team.
Komarov was a player in the NHL for 10 years before he signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg to play two years. This contract came on November 15, 2021. Komarov participated in the 2014 Olympics and three World Champions as well as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Komarov was an NHL All-Star in 2016. Komarov played 491 NHL games, scoring 63 goals as well as 107 assists. He has one gold medal from Team Finland’s 2011 World Championship and two silver medals in the 2014 and 2016 World Championships. Komarov was also part of the bronze-medal winning 2014 Olympic Finland team.
Granlund is Mikael Granlund’s brother. He played seven seasons in NHL, split between Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers. Granlund was a part of 335 NHL games, scoring 58 goals as well as 43 assists. Granlund has participated in two World Junior Championships, 2012 and 2013.
Marko Anttila (Jokerit-KHL), Markus Granlund (Salavat Yulaev Ufa- KHL), Miro Aaltonen (Vityaz Podolsk-KHL), Sakari Manninen (Salavat Yulaev Ufa- KHL), Niko Ojamäki (HC Vityaz- KHL), Teemu Hartikainen (Salavat Yulaev Ufa- KHL), Joonas Kemppainen (SKA St. Petersburg- KHL), Leo Komarov (SKA St. Petersburg- KHL), Hannes Björninen (Jokerit- KHL), Saku Mäenalanen (Oulun Kärpät- Liiga), Toni Rajala (EHC Biel- NL) , Iiro Pakarinen (Jokerit- KHL), Valtteri Filppula (Genève-Servett- NL), Harri Pesonen (SCL Tigers- NL)
Two names will be known by the North American fans of the defensemen on the roster. Those players being Sami Vatanen and Mikko Lehtonen
Vatanen was drafted in 2009 by the Anaheim Ducks, but he did not play his first NHL match until the 2012-13 season. He played in 473 NHL games over the years for the Ducks and New Jersey Devils as well as the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars.
Vatanen represented Finland both in the 2014 Olympic Games, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Vatanen was awarded the bronze medal in the 2014 Olympics.
Although Lehtonen played only 26 NHL games, he was part two gold medal winning Finland teams. His first gold medal was in 2014 at World Junior Championship, and his second in 2019. He represented Finland at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018.
Ville Pokka (Avangard Omsk- KHL), Juuso Hietanen (HC Ambrì-Piotta- NL), Niklas Friman (Jokerit- KHL), Petteri Lindbohm (EHC Biel- NL), Mikko Lehtonen (SKA St. Petersburg- KHL), Sami Vatanen (Genève- Servette HC- NL), Valtteri Kemiläinen (HC Vityaz- KHL), Atte Ohtamaa (Oulun Käpät- Liiga)
Team Finland chose three goaltenders that are familiar to the KHL. Two have experience in North America and one, Harri Säteri played in the NHL.
Säteri spent two years playing in North America spending two seasons in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons and Grand Rapids Griffins. In that time, he was called up to the NHL and played nine games with the Florida Panthers.
Säteri was also a part of the 2021 World Championship team that took the silver medal along with fellow goaltender, Juho Olkinoura.
Harri Säteri (Sibir Novosibirsk- KHL), Frans Tuohimaa (HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk- KHL), Juho ‘Jussi’ Olkinoura (Metallurg Magnitogorsk- KHL)
Team Finland by the Numbers
While many of these players have not spent much time in North America playing, they have all had lots of experience on the global stage and have played together at those competitions.
NHL Experience 11 players (Granlund, Hartikainen , Kemppainen, Komarov , Mäenalanen, Pakarinen, Pesonen, Pokka, Lindbohm, Lehtonen, Vatanen, Säteri)
AHL Experience 15 players (Granlund , Aaltonen, Hartikainen , Kemppainen, Komarov , Mäenalanen, Rajala, Pakarinen, Pesonen, Pokka, Lindbohm, Lehtonen, Vatanen, Säteri, Tuohimaa)
Olympic Experience Nine players(Filppula- 2010, Komarov, Hietanen, Vatanen- 2014 , Anttila, Hietanen, Manninen, Hartikainen, Kemppainen, Lehtonen, Ohtamaa- 2018)
World Cup of Hockey Experience Four players (Komarov, Filppula, Pokka, Vatanen)
IIHF World Championship Experience 22 players (Hietanen, Komarov, Ohtamaa, Anttila, Pokka, Vatanen, Kemppainen, Lehtonen, Säteri, Manninen, Mäenalanen, Lindbohm, Ojamäki, Rajala, Pesonen, Björninen, Pakarinen, Olkinoura, Pakarinen, Filppula, Harikainen, Aaltonen)
Many of these players have multiple years of experience in playing in the World Championships. Juuso Hietanen played in six World Championships, and nine other players have participated in at least one World Championship. Out of the 25-man roster seven won the gold medal for the team in 2019, and the silver in 2021.
Related: Guide to the 2022 Men’s Olympic Tournament
The team was unable to include NHL players but they still have an experienced roster and many players who have already won medals for Team Finland. Many of the players who participated in previous Olympics are keen to win that gold and this team is a great option. Finland is a nation that rarely disappoints. With the names they have chosen, they are sure to show off their skills on the ice.
Casey had previously covered the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers. But she is back to face the Carolina Hurricanes. She is from Steel City and a former Lightning season ticker member. However, she grew up in Orlando so the Canes were always her favourite team. While studying Sport Management at California University of Pennsylvania Vulcan Hockey Club, she began her hockey career in the role of Keeper of Time. She dreams of becoming a team chaplain with Hockey Ministries International. She can be found almost everywhere. TweetingAbout hockey or uploading pictures Instagram.