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- Medal Round: Best of the Projected 2022 Olympic Rosters
It remains to be seen if the NHL will allow its players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. But if they do, Finland could have an especially impressive roster with loads of offensive talent.
While it seems like he’s been in the NHL for a half-dozen seasons now, Patrik Laine will only be 23 years-old when the next Winter Olympics are held. In a couple years, Winnipeg’s sniper will be in his prime and lighting up the international tournament.
Apart from Laine, who else might make up Finland’s next Olympic hockey roster? Let’s dive in.
Finland’s Projected 2022 Olympic Roster
Here’s how Finland’s roster could look when the world gathers in Beijing for the 2022 Olympic Games:
|Patrik Laine||Aleksander Barkov||Mikko Rantanen|
|Teuvo Teravainen||Sebastian Aho||Kaapo Kakko|
|Mikael Granlund||Roope Hintz||Kaspari Kapanen|
|Aatu Raty||Jesperi Kotkaniemi||Joonas Donskoi|
|Erik Haula||Anton Lundell|
|Miro Heiskanen||Henri Jokiharju||Tuukka Rask|
|Esa Lindell||Rasmus Ristolainen||Antti Raanta|
|Markus Nutivaara||Sami Vatanen||Juuse Saros|
|Olli Maatta||Ville Heinola|
Olympic Roster Breakdown
Despite a high number of players returning from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey team, the rest of Finland’s roster is relatively inexperienced when it comes to international tournaments.
- Players from 2014 Olympic Games: 5
- Players from 2016 World Cup of Hockey: 12
- Players from 2018 Olympic Games: 1
- Players with no international experience*: 12
*Excluding World Junior Championships and World Championships.
Finland’s Lethal Forward Group
Alongside Laine on the top line, Aleksander Barkov and Mikko Rantanen form an impressive trio. The three elite NHL forwards will be one of the most dangerous lines in the Olympics given their unique skill sets.
Laine, Barkov, and Rantanen are so talented that they push all-around great Sebastian Aho to the second line. Imagine those four on the power play with Miro Heiskanen up top – you better not take a penalty against the Finns.
Finland also has solid depth at forward with Teuvo Teravainen, Roope Hintz, and Kasperi Kapanen playing further down in the lineup. Plus, Kaapo Kakko will have established himself as a true offensive threat by 2022.
One additional player to call out is Aatu Raty, who will be one of the first prospects chosen in the 2021 NHL Draft.
“Raty has all the tools to become a very good number one center at the NHL level. His size is not going to be an issue because he’s already big enough to compete against men. He is an excellent skater who can push the pace of the game, and it’s almost impossible to prevent him from entering the offensive zone with possession of the puck.”Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects
Top to bottom, this is a deep team on offense. If they can get solid contributions from Raty, Kakko, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, it wouldn’t be crazy to think this team can bring home a medal.
Finland’s Defense & Goaltending Depth
As far as Olympic-level defenses go, Finland’s is just OK. Sure, Heiskanen is a stud for the Dallas Stars and Esa Lindell is competent against opponents’ top players, but there’s not much elite depth otherwise.
Again, there are OK players on defense with regard to Olympic competition. Henri Jokiharju, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Sami Vatanen are fine, just not stellar options. They won’t be lights-out defenders, but can get the job down if they’re in the right position.
One player to watch, though, is Ville Heinola. The Winnipeg Jets’ blueliner could develop into a solid, two-way defenseman by the next Winter Olympics. Heinola could easily jump into the defensive top-six for Finland given his pedigree and World Junior Championship performances.
In net, it was difficult to leave Pekka Rinne off the roster, but he’ll also be 39 when the 2022 Winter Olympics are held. Tuukka Rask will only be 35 and should still be the clear starter for Finland. Antti Raanta and Juuse Saros could push for time, but, chances are, Rask will still be playing at an elite level in a couple years.
Joel Armia, Pekka Rinne, Mikko Koskinen, Valtteri Filppula, Artturi Lehkonen, Mikko Lehtonen, Jesse Puljujarvi, Lassi Thomson, Rasmus Kupari, Eeli Tolvanen.