While hockey fans in Finland were still celebrating a landmark victory in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championships, the country received a bit of sobering news barely more than a month away from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Mikko Koivu, captain of the Minnesota Wild and possibly captain for Suomi in Russia next month, will miss "approximately" a month of NHL action after surgery to repair a broken ankle, the Wild announced Monday. Koivu sustained a broken ankle during a game Saturday against the Washington Capitals, though he did finish the game.
Koivu leads the Wild with 35 points (eight goals) in 44 games this season. He is projected to be Finland's top center in Sochi, and was likely going to be named captain for his country. Minnesota's final game before the Olympic break is Feb. 6, or exactly one month from this announcement.
If Koivu cannot play, that would increase the chances of Finland naming Aleksander Barkov to the roster. Considered a bubble guy, the 2013 first-round pick (No. 2) by the Florida Panthers is fifth among Finnish-born NHL players with 21 points this season. Candidates to replace Koivu on Finland's top line include Valtteri Filppula, Olli Jokinen and Mikko's brother, Saku Koivu.
It should be noted Finland just won the WJC despite being heavy underdogs and not having three of its top players (Barkov and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta were in the NHL and top 2014 draft prospect Kasperi Kapenen was injured), and the Finns still have the best collection of depth and talent in net to choose from.