Finland Olympic team: Teemu Selanne returns for sixth Olympics
Teemu Selanne will compete in his sixth Olympics, while youngsters Aleksander Barkov and Olli Maatta will get their first taste.
Finland’s Olympic roster is a good mix of old and new, with several players returning from the team that won the bronze medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Among those headed to Sochi is Teemu Selanne , who will make his sixth trip to the Olympics for Finland. According to the IIHF, he will become just the second person to ever do that in ice hockey.
Selanne has played in every Olympics since NHL players were allowed to compete in the games in 1998 and even was part of the 1992 Olympic squad, where he had seven goals and four assists in eight games as an amateur.
Conversely, Finland’s roster also includes Florida Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov , who was not even born when Selanne made his first Olympics and is 25 years the Finnish legend’s junior. Same for defenseman Olli Maatta , who is 24 years younger than Selanne.
Sixteen total NHLers made the roster, with players from Finland's SMliiga and the KHL filling out the other spots (via IIHF):
Kari Lehtonen , Dallas Stars (NHL)
Antti Niemi , San Jose Sharks (NHL)
Tuukka Rask , Boston Bruins (NHL)
Lasse Kukkonen, Kärpät Oulu (FIN)
Juuso Hietanen, Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod (RUS)
Sami Lepisto, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (RUS)
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Sami Salo , Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
Kimmo Timonen , Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
Ossi Vaananen, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN)
Sami Vatanen , Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
Juhamatti Aaltonen, Kärpät Oulu (FIN)
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers (NHL)
Valtteri Filppula , Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL)
Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Jussi Jokinen , Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
Olli Jokinen , Winnipeg Jets (NHL)
Mikko Koivu , Minnesota Wild (NHL)
Leo Komarov, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
Petri Kontiola, Traktor Chelyabinsk (RUS)
Lauri Korpikoski, Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
Jori Lehtera, Sibir Novosibirsk (RUS)
Antti Pihlstrom, Salavat Yulayev Ufa (RUS)
Tuomo Ruutu , Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks (NHL)
Goaltending should be a big strength for this team as they have three proven netminders in Tuukka Rask, who is likely the favorite to start, Vezina finalist Antti Niemi and the vastly underappreciated Kari Lehtonen. The notable omission is Pekka Rinne, who is still recovering from an infection.
Finland’s defense will be led by Kimmo Timonen, a seasoned veteran who should be able to keep things calm back there and let guys like Maatta and Sami Vatanen a chance to play into bigger roles on the team as younger players.
Up front, Finland has an interesting mix. Mikko Koivu was named to the team despite the fact that he is recovering from a broken ankle. If he doesn’t recover in time, the Finns forward depth takes a hit. Younger players like Barkov and Mikael Granlund, who was the hero in Finland’s 2011 World Championship gold-medal game, should play prominent offensive roles for this club.
Finland is going to be an interesting team to watch in Sochi. They might not have the depth they did when they took the bronze in Vancouver, but the confidence gained in 2011 with that world championship and the mix of experience they have on this team could make them a little more dangerous than they look on paper.
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