As much as I’d like to say Joonas Donskoi will carry the Finns to unquestioned victory over much more talented foes, I think we’ll have to settle for the Finnish forward scoring a shit-ton of goals in defeat. There are some interesting players here, Patrik Laine and Aleksander Barkov among them, but once you get outside the top six (hell, the top three) things get very thin.
I’m not going to talk about the goaltenders now, but sufficed to say that should help offset Finland’s relatively weakness in other positions.
Sebastian Aho, Karpat (FIN)
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks
Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild
Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lauri Korpikoski, UFA
Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks
PLAYERS TO WATCH
I know I don’t have to tell you to watch Donskoi, but he’s the player I’m going to be watching so ... you should, too. We’ve seen what he can do in the NHL, now he gets a chance to show his stuff against the best of the best in the World Cup of Hockey.
He’s young and inexperienced, but he also has a lot of skill. This will be many fan’s first introduction to Laine, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of first impression he makes.
Practically an elder statesmen on this team, Teravainen is sort of a staple of a on-the-downswing Chicago team. He’s good and the Finns will rely on him to get some offense going.
First Game: Team North America vs. Team Finland, 5 p.m. PT, ESPN2