The 2019 IIHF World Hockey Championships are set to get underway on Friday and participating countries are in the process of finalizing their rosters. Finland has announced their squad for the tourney which is as follows (NHL rights in parentheses):
Juho Lammikko (Florida)
Eetu Luostarinen (Carolina)
On paper, this is not a roster with a lot of firepower, especially compared to some of the high-end Finnish players in the NHL. That said, there are a few players of note that are worth keeping an eye on.
Kakko is the projected second overall pick in next month’s draft behind Jack Hughes who will also be participating. Given the lack of NHL-caliber talent around him, it’s likely that he’ll be given an important role which will be of great interest to scouts around the league. Lammikko played in 40 games with the Panthers this past season while Kuusela was tied for third in Finnish league scoring.
On the back end, Jokiharju surprised many by cracking Chicago’s roster to start the season and he played an important role early on before ultimately going to the minor leagues. He’s expected to push for a full-time spot with the Blackhawks for next season. Kaski had a very strong season offensively in the sm-Liiga which has him fielding interest from several NHL teams as a free agent and he could sign shortly after the tournament. Hakanpaa is technically still property of the Blues until July 1st when free agency opens but it’s believed that there are NHL teams interested in his services for next season as well.
In goal, Vehvilainen slots in as the likely starter. The Columbus draft pick led the sm-Liiga in GAA (1.58) and SV% (.933) in 38 games with Karpat in the regular season. He then improved on those results in the postseason. While he’s a little undersized for a goaltender relative to other NHL netminders, he’s nonetheless a quality prospect, something that the Blue Jackets have several of between the pipes.