Finland's Olympic hockey camp list includes bevy of star goalies
Finland, which has reached the Olympic podium in men's hockey three of the four times since NHL players have entered the tournament in earnest, unveiled its camp roster on Monday.
As expected, the country of under six million people has the best goaltenders per capita of the nations who will compete for gold in Sochi, Russia in February.
Vezina Trophy finalist Antti Niemi of San Jose and Tuukka Rask of the Stanley Cup runner-up Boston Bruins highlight the list of netminder possibilities, along with Pekka Rinne (Nashville), Kari Lehtonen (Dallas), and Niklas Backstrom (Minnesota).
Karri Ramo, who plans to return to North America in the coming weeks with the Calgary Flames, joins Antti Raanta and Petri Vehanen as the goaltenders on the list who played in Europe in 2012-13.
Finland's list includes a whopping 54 players overall, more than the other countries who released their camp names on Monday: Canada (47 players) and host Russia (35).
Brothers Mikko and Saku Koivu of Minnesota and Anaheim, respectively, lead the forward corps. Veterans Olli Jokinen and Antti Miettinen of Winnipeg were among the NHLers named, as were Valterri Filppula (Detroit), Sean Bergenheim (Florida), Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina), Jussi Jokinen (Pittsburgh), Ville Leino (Buffalo) and Lauri Korpikoski (Phoenix).
Teemu Selanne is also on the list, although the longtime Anaheim Ducks player hasn't confirmed if he's playing again next season. Selanne turned 43 earlier this month.
There are two forwards from the Edmonton Oilers organization — Lennart Petrell and Teemu Hartikainen — while the list of former NHL forwards includes Jarkko Ruutu, Leo Komarov and Niklas Hagman.
The group of NHL forwards is heavy on veterans, but potential younger additions to the Sochi lineup include Mikael Granlund of Minnesota, and 17-year-old Alexander Barkov, who was selected second overall by Florida in the recent NHL draft.
The group of 14 defenceman selected for camp includes just five who played in the NHL last season, with Joni Pitkanen of Carolina trying to come back from a serious ankle injury. Kimmo Timmonen (Philadelphia), Toni Lydman (Anaheim), Sami Salo (Tampa Bay), Sami Vatanen (Anaheim) and Joonas Jarvinen of Milwaukee in the AHL round out the group who played in North America last season, with Lasse Kukkonen and Ossi Vaananen among the former NHL blue-liners.
Finland has won medals in five of the last seven Olympic Games in men's hockey after failling to reach the podium in their first eight appearances in the tournament. The country has never won gold at the Olympics, taking their second ever silver in Torino in 2006 and winning bronze in Vancouver in 2010.
In Sochi, Finland will compete in Group B with Austria, Canada and Norway.