The Finnish Liiga has postponed all games from tomorrow through December 19 according to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the country. Yesterday, Mestis, Finland’s AHL equivalent, was also suspended indefinitely with the hope that it could resume in January. Many NHL prospects will now be on the sidelines waiting for games to come back, though some may decide this is a good time to return to North America to prepare for the upcoming training camp.
For players like Arttu Ruotsalainen though, this stoppage comes at the worst time. The Buffalo Sabres prospect was dominating the competition in Finland, leading the league with 27 points in 19 games. His play had reached a new level that could have given him a real leg up on the competition at camp, should he have returned to Buffalo to seek an NHL job.
Others, like 18-year-old Aatu Raty, a top prospect for the 2021 draft, will have to find other ways to continue their development. The young forward will likely be part of Finland’s World Junior team after taking part in the tournament a year ago, but he had been getting his feet wet for Karpat at the highest level and holding his own.
As Thomas Drance of The Athletic wrote today, it seems as though instead of an offseason the NHL is in a second “pause” with so much uncertainty in the hockey world. The QMJHL has put their season on pause, Hockey Canada’s selection camp was shut down for two weeks and now prospects overseas are also on the sideline. Without NHL or AHL action to consume, the hockey world seems to be coming to a standstill once again.