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Granlund brothers highlight Finland WJC camp roster

by Mike G. Morreale
The offensively gifted Granlund brothers, Markus and Mikael, highlight the list of players on Team Finland's preliminary 27-player roster for the 2012 World Junior Championship.

Finland at 2012 WJC

Finland will be in Group B at the 2012 World Junior Championship and play its preliminary-round games at Rexall Centre in Edmonton. The medal round will be played at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary

Dec. 26 - Finland vs. Canada
Dec. 28 - Finland vs. U.S.
Dec. 30 - Finland vs. Denmark
Dec. 31 - Finland vs. Czech Republic
Jan. 2 - Quarterfinals
Jan. 3 - Semifinals
Jan. 5 - Gold medal/Bronze medal games
The 2012 WJC will run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2012, in Calgary and Edmonton. Finland, which will play in Group B with Team USA, Canada, Denmark and Czech Republic, will arrive for camp in Calgary on Dec. 18. The club has scheduled exhibition matches against Canada on Dec. 19 and Slovakia on Dec. 22.

Coach Raimo Helminen, a former national team player, will have six players at camp from last year's sixth-place team. Finland hasn't medaled at the WJC since winning bronze at the 2006 WJC.

Coming back in hope of ending that medal drought are goalie Sami Aittokallio of Ilves, defenseman Olli Maatta of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and forwards Teemu Pulkkinen of Jokerit, Joel Armia of Assat and Miikka Salomaki and Joonas Donskoi of Karpat.

Helminen also has invited several blue-chip prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft -- defensemen Maatta, Simo-Pekka Riikola of KalPa, Konsta Makinen of Ilves, Ville Pokka of Karpat and Julius Nyqvist of HIFK, and forwards Miro Aaltonen of Blues, Petteri Halinen of JYP, Mikael Kuronen of Ilves and Otto Paajanen of HPK.

The youngest player on the roster is 16-year-old Aleksander Barkov of Tappara. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound Barkov has 5 goals and 9 points in 19 games this season.

The addition of the Granlund brothers certainly will benefit the Finns, as they were unable to play for their country last season. Mikael Granlund, chosen ninth by the Minnesota Wild at the 2010 Entry Draft, was suffering from post-concussion symptoms. His younger brother, Markus, was not a part of last year's 29-player preliminary roster. Markus was drafted in the second round (No. 45) by the Calgary Flames last June.

Eleven NHL teams will have one prospect there, including Mikael Granlund and Armia (No. 16, Buffalo, 2011), who were first-round picks.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


GOALIES -- Sami Aittokallio, Ilves (Colorado); Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings); Jonathan Iilahti, Blues (Vancouver); Richard Ullberg, SaiPa (2012 draft eligible).

DEFENSEMEN --  Jani Hakanpaa, Blues (St. Louis); Miro Hovinen, Jokerit (2012 draft eligible); Olli Maatta, London Knights, OHL (2012 draft eligible); Konsta Makinen, Ilves (2012 draft eligible); Julius Nyqvist, HIFK (2012 draft eligible); Ville Pokka, Karpat (2012 draft eligible); Simo-Pekka Riikola, KalPa (2012 draft eligible); Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS (2013 draft eligible); Joonas Valkonen, Blues (2012 draft eligible).

FORWARDS -- Miro Aaltonen, Blues (2012 draft eligible); Joel Armia, Assat (Buffalo); Aleksander Barkov, Tappara (2013 draft eligible); Joonas Donskoi, Karpat (Florida); Markus Granlund, HIFK (Calgary); Mikael Granlund, HIFK (Minnesota); Petteri Halinen, JYP (2012 draft eligible); Roope Hamalainen, SaiPa/Jukurit (2012 draft eligible); Markus Hannikainen, Jokerit (2012 draft eligible); Mikael Kuronen, Ilves (2012 draft eligible); Otto Paajanen, HPK (2012 draft eligible); Teemu Pulkkinen, Jokerit (Detroit); Alexander Ruuttu, Jokerit (Phoenix); Miikka Salomaki, Karpat (Nashville).
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