This post was actually started a couple of days ago, but then life interfered and I never had a change to finish it. Second time lucky?
First of, kudos for Jarmo Kekäläinen for becoming the first European GM in the NHL.
But moving on: I ran into a Finnish newssite's team Finland roster for Sochi, and well..
Tuomo Ruutu - Mikko Koivu - Valtteri Filppula
Mikael Granlund - Jori Lehterä - Lauri Korpikoski
Sean Bergenheim - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selänne
Leo Komarov - Niko Kapanen - Jesse Joensuu
Kimmo Timonen - Sami Salo
Sami Vatanen - Toni Lydman
Janne Niskala - Ossi Väänänen
What ever the final roster, the goaltending will be the backbone by which this team will either rise or fall. The depth there is just amazing. Just that trio is a one you could win with, and the guys getting cut are nothing to scoff by either.
The site mentioned Bäckström, Niemi and Ortio as having the best changes. Some might add Kipper too, but he's likely to retire and in case, has already stated that he's retired from team Finland in any case, plus considering the history he has had with the team, he'd have to be riding a fifty game win streak before anyone would want him on it.
Where they are not looking so great though, is defense. They're kind of on the old side for one. After Vatanen, the youngest would be Pitkänen, whose thirty by the time the games roll by. Not too bad for a defenceman sure, but I'd still like to see some youth added in, especially when you add the fact that our would be number one pairing would be 38 and 39 years old. And that even if both of them are healthy which isn't exactly a guarenteed.
The problem is that where as goaltending is over flowing with depth, there really isn't any here. Outside of the guys mentioned, there isn't any NHL level players awailable. Hell, even having every single finnish defenceman currently playing there, and we're not even close to willing the roster.
And as for getting any youth on the blueline? Olli Määttä and Rasmus Ristolainen, the would be next great Finnish defensemen still won't have even turned twenty yet, so I'm not at all convinced that they'll be ready for the Olympics yet. Määttä maybe, but even that's a long shot.
Bottom line, I wouldn't say our blueline sucks, but it's not great either. And if any of the guys listed are unable to play for what ever reason, we are going to have problems.
And then finally, forwards. Idek where to start here. It's kind of a mess, in a freakishly awesome way? The first line is.. okay, in that Ruutu-Koivu pairing has worked well in the past, and Koivu-Filppula did nice enough at the Worlds last year. The problem you'll have with the three of them combined though, is that the line lacks a goal scorer. Which is something that would be nice to have on the freaking first line..
I have really mixed feelings about the second line. On one hand, having Granlund and Korpikoski on the same line might be a really good combination. Mostly I'm a bit on the fence about putting Lehterä there. He's on fifth place in scoring in the KHL this season, so by no means is he a bad player, but I'm just feeling a bit meh about this line as a whole.
In part it's with having Granlund on the wing. It's the safer option for sure, but unless the Wild end up playing him in that position for the most part this season and the next season, it seems both counter-productive and needless.
Personally, if Jussi Jokinen can get his play going from now on, I'd say Jokinen-Granlund-Korpikoski might be a combination worth considering.
And then we get to the third line. Obviously the fact that Selänne said after Vancouver that he wouldn't be playing for team Finland anymore is being taken seriously by absolutely no one. Then again, he has been retiring since 2006 so it's really no wonder. And for all that I complained about how old our blueline is, Selänne might be 43 by then, but it's SELÄNNE. Normal laws don't apply. Other than that, I don't really have anything to say about the line. I like it, assuming that we'd get the older Koivu of this season and not from the last season.
As for the fourth line, Komarov could maybe have a spot somewhere higher even?
As for players not on this lineup, I'd mostly just mention Barkov. I'm not saying that he's ready for a roster spot yet. But he does deserve to get considered for one. The danger here is that there might be pressure from the media to have him on the team, because it makes for a better story, but hopefully the coaching staff will make the decision about him based on skill alone.
If he does crack the lineup though, and Selänne plays, the age difference between our oldest and youngest player would be 25 years. And that'd be awesome!
It'd also be the sixth Olympics Selänne plays at. Even more awesomeness.
And then to wrap things up, some random observations about this weeks Becoming Wild:
- I wonder what the Wild's PR department used to bride/threathen/blackmail Mikko into letting a cameracrew into his home. Would love to be a fly on the wall to see that conversation go down.. :D
- THAT VIEW! Basically The coastal area in Turku is one of the most beautiful places in Finland, and I'm just jealous of that view.
- WHY DOES HE HAVE A HUGE ASS FRAMED PICTURE OF HIM AND GRANLUND IN HIS PLACE! WHY IS IT ON A HIGHER SHELF THAN ALL THE OTHER PICS THERE! AND NO ONE IS BEING FOOLED BY YOUR FAKE CASUALITY ABOUT IT!
And that about it. Now for a lovely day of cleaning up. Oh joy.