Finland taking new approach
by John Sanful|05 MAY 2018
After the World Juniors and his Olypic debut, Finnish prospect Miro Heiskanen will play his first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images

Harri Sateri played in nine games for the Florida Panthers. His stint with the Panthers will be remembers for the four game winning streak he put up to keep his team in the playoff hunt. During that streak, Sateri posted a 95% save percentage. Sateri was Finland’s most effective goaltender at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Ville Husso played for the San Antonio Rampage where he was named to the AHL All Rookie team. His season was highlighted by several promotions to the St. Louis Blues, including near the end of the season. 

18-year-old Miro Heiskanen makes his senior men’s debut. Drafted third overall by the Dallas Stars in 2017, Heiskanen projects as an elite level defenseman with great vision and is an exceptional skater. He made his Olympic debut in February, scoring the game winning goal in a 5-2 win over Korea. He scored 23 points in 30 games for HIFK Helsinki. Julius Honka is another Dallas Stars first round pick (2014). Honka played 42 games with the Stars trying to adjust to the NHL and finding some consistency in his game. In his first men’s worlds last year he scored a goal and three points in ten games. Miika Koivisto also saw his first international action at the February Olympics. Markus Nutivaara is coming off a season where he played 61 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite being drafted in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Ville Pokka has not developed into the player some thought based on his potential. He's spent three and a half years with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL before moving to the Belleville Senators.

Sebastien Aho has made an impact since joining the NHL in 2016. He’s scored 114 points in his two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. Captain of the team, Mikael Granlund has found his stride with the Minnesota Wild. Granlund is coming off another strong season with 21 goals and 67 points. Toronto's Kasperi Kapanen will bring speed and use it to generate chances in the offensive zone. Mikko Rantanen was a revelation in his second full NHL season. Rantanen scored 29 goals and 84 points for the Colorado Avalanche. Rantanen established himself as one of the best wingers in the league and Colorado’s second best player behind Nathan MacKinnon. Another newcomer in Herning will be Teuvo Teravainen who was second behind Aho in scoring for Carolina. Overall, on paper the Finnish offense appears to have the skill to score and there is the depth to roll at least three very strong lines. 

Lauri Marjamaki’s tenure as national team coach will be coming to an end after this tournament. Perhaps as a result, Marjamaki is unburdened and can use this IIHF World Championship to take chances and not be risk averse. He has the young guns to demonstrate a new kind of Finnish hockey that is built on speed and offensive flair. Marjamaki has nothing to lose and everything to gain. 
Projected Results

Finland is younger than usual. The average age of the team is 25 years old. And with so many making their first senior men’s appearance, this is an inexperienced group at this level. But Finland is also a very skilled team with the ability to score. They will make mistakes but show plenty of offensive creativity and speed, making these youngsters fun to watch. Finland will be an intriguing and entertaining, but still strong enough to compete in this group. Look for this squad to be in the mix when the playoff round starts.