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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Get to know Finland’s defenders

There are some players here.

2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

If you thought Finland’s forward group was thin, just wait until you get a load of its defenders. There’s not much here in the way of top defensive pair talent, so ... man, the Finns better hope their goalies pull some miracles out in order to escape this group. It’s gonna be tough.

Finland’s Defenders

Jyrki Jokipakka, Calgary Flames

Sami Lepisto, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)

Esa Lindell, Dallas Stars

Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins

Ville Pokka, Chicago Blackhawks

Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres

Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks


Olli Maatta

Maatta is a bit of a weird case. You’ll get wildly differing scouting reports depending on who you ask and when — so for now we’ll say he’s still a very young defender who has found a way to stick in the NHL. Where he goes from here is a mystery, which is what makes him a good player to keep an eye on.

Sami Vatanen

It’s never a bad idea to keep tabs on a division rival’s player — so let’s make sure Vatanen doesn’t try anything shift while Joonas Donskoi is on the ice. No funny business, mister.

Jyrki Jokipakka

I know what you’re thinking — are these basically the only three players on this team Jake has heard of? The answer is... no, but just barely. We’ll keep an eye on Jokipakka for the same reason as Vatanen. Those Pacific Division players aren’t to be trusted.

Group: B

First Game: Team North America vs. Team Finland, 5 p.m. PT, ESPN2