The Finnish National Junior Team on Monday announced the selection camp roster of players hoping to represent their country at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Finland, which placed seventh at the 2013 WJC, is seeking its first medal since winning bronze in 2006. The camp features 27 players, including six who participated in last year's tournament -- goalie Janne Juvonen of Pelicans Lahti in Finland, defensemen Ville Pokka of Karpat Oulu (FIN), Rasmus Ristolainen of the Rochester Americans (AHL) and Juuso Vainio of HPK (FIN) and forwards Artturi Lehkonen of KalPa (FIN) and Teuvo Teravainen of Jokerit (FIN).
There also are 10 players on the roster drafted by NHL teams, including Ristolainen, taken by the Buffalo Sabres with the eighth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, and Teravainen selected the by Chicago Blackhawks with the 18th pick of the 2012 draft.
Ristolainen had one goal in 19 games with the Sabres earlier this season, but Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan told reporters that Ristolainen would be available for Finland for the tournament. That's assuming the rookie defenseman is healthy -- he sustained an upper-body injury Nov. 29 while playing in the AHL. He has two goals and two assists in five AHL games.
Finland also will be without a pair of eligible players currently skating in major roles for their NHL teams -- defenseman Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov.
FINLAND SELECTION CAMP ROSTER
DEFNSEMEN: Julius Honka, Swift Current, WHL (2014); Mikko Lehtonen, TuTo, FIN (2014); Esa Lindell, Jokerit, FIN (Dallas); Atte Makinen, Tappara, FIN (2014); Valtteri Parikka, Assat, FIN (2014); Ville Pokka, Karpat, FIN (N.Y. Islanders); Rasmus Ristolainen, Rochester, AHL (Buffalo); Juuso Vainio, HPK, FIN (2014); Mikko Vainonen, Kingston, OHL (Nashville).
FORWARDS: Henrik Haapala, Tappara, FIN (2014); Henri Ikonen, Kingston, OHL (Tampa Bay); Juuso Ikonen, JYP, FIN (2014); Kasperi Kapanen, KalPa, FIN (2014); Saku Kinnunen, KalPa, FIN (2014); Rasmus Kulmala, TPS, FIN (2014); Artturi Lehkonen, KalPa, FIN (Montreal); Ville Leskinen, Karpat, FIN (2014); Aleksi Mustonen, Jokerit, FIN (2014); Saku Maenalanen, Karpat, FIN (Nashville); Joni Nikko, Lukko Rauma, FIN (2014); Topi Nattinen, JYP, FIN (2014); Otto Rauhala, Tappara, FIN (2014); Aleksi Rutanen, TuTo, FIN (2014); Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit, FIN (Chicago)
The camp will also have two skaters who earned A ratings and a third who earned a B rating on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2014 NHL Draft. The A-rated skaters, or those considered to be potential first-round candidates, are Kasperi Kapanen of Kalpa (FIN) and Julius Honka of the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.
Kapanen led Finland to a bronze medal in the 2013 World Under-18 Championship with five goals and eight points in seven games. In 21 games with KalPa he has two goals and two assists.
"I like to play a physical game and play a lot with the puck," Kapanen told NHL.com. "I love to shoot, pass the puck and score goals. I guess you can call it an offensive type of game."
Kapanen is the son of former NHL forward Sami Kapanen, who spent 12 seasons in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers, and recorded 189 goals and 458 points in 831 games. The elder Kapanen represented his country at two World Junior Championships, in 1992 and 1993.
"Kasperi is at present the number-one European prospect," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "He's a sniper who will play for Finland at the 2014 World Junior Championship. He possesses excellent vision and has great skills … he's a star in the making."
Honka was taken by the Broncos with the 34th pick of the 2013 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. He's second among WHL defensemen and WHL rookies with 34 points in 32 games.
"Julius Honka is smallish but an excellent skater with great balance," Stubb said. "He's an offensive-minded defenseman with good vision and a high skill level. Quick moves, reads the game very well and loves to join the offensive rush. Used in all game situations."
The only B-rated player in camp is goalie Ville Husso of HIFK (FIN). In 17 games the 6-foot-2, 192-pounder has a 1.94 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
There also are five C-rated prospects, or potential fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round candidates, playing with Finnish clubs -- defensemen Atte Makinen of Tappara and forwards Juuso Ikonen of JYP, Saku Kinnunen of KalPa, Aleksi Mustonen of Jokerit and Joni Nikko of Lukko Rauma.
Finland coach Karri Kivi, who likely will pare his roster to 22 players on Dec. 23, will conduct camp Dec. 16-18 in Vierumaki, Finland, before moving his team to Malmo from Dec. 19-22.
The 2014 WJC will run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2014. Finland, which opens preliminary-round play against Norway on Dec. 27, will compete in Group B with Sweden, Russia, Switzerland and Norway.