The Toronto Maple Leafs have already signed one KHL player. The did it back in March, and he is Miro Aaltonen. His contract takes effect for next year, but he’s ours now.
On May 1, Finland released their roster for the 2017 IIHF World Championships, and Aaltonen is one of several new faces on the team. He played for Finland in the most recent set of pre-tournament friendlies, and made the cut to this nearly final squad.
He played as the second line centre in those games with Mikko Rantanen and a Liiga player who was cut as his wingers. The lines may change considerably now that the preliminary roster is set, so he may see some time at wing.
Notably absent from the team is Leo Komarov, who has said he might not play for the national team again. Also missing is last year’s WC star Patrik Laine, who wanted, like Auston Matthews, to rest after having virtually no time off last summer.
Without the Nashville goalies, Mikko Koivu or Aleksander Barkov, the Finns are missing all their top players in the NHL. Many young, up and coming players are also not on the team, which is mostly KHL players, some of them very good. Most of the best Finnish players not in the NHL play in the KHL.
Most teams leave the option open to add players from early second round losers in the NHL. For now the roster supplied by the team looks like this:
Korpisalo Joonas (Columbus Blue Jackets)*
Ortio Joni (Skellefteå AIK)
Säteri Harri (HK Vitjaz)*
Hietanen Juuso (Dynamo Moskova)
Honka Julius (Dallas Stars)*
Jaakola Topi (Jokerit)
Järvinen Joonas (Kunlun Redstar)
Kukkonen Lasse (Kärpät)
Lajunen Ville (Jokerit)
Lehtonen Mikko (HV 71)*
Ohtamaa Atte (Ak Bars Kazan)
Aaltonen Juhamatti (IFK)
Aaltonen Miro (HK Vitjaz)*
Aho Sebastian (Carolina Hurricanes)
Filppula Valtteri (Philadelphia Flyers)
Hännikäinen Markus (Columbus Blue Jackets)*
Kemppainen Joonas (Sibir Novosibirsk)
Lajunen Jani (Tappara)
Osala Oskar (Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
Pihlström Antti (Jokerit)
Puljujärvi Jesse (Edmonton Oilers)*
Pyörälä Mika (Kärpät)
Rantanen Mikko (Colorado Avalanche)
Sallinen Tomi (Kunlun Redstar)
Savinainen Veli-Matti (Tappara)
Finland plays their first game in Paris against Belarus on May 5. Playing in the pool with Canada and a group of mostly weaker teams might give them a easier trip to the medal rounds, even with this roster, but they will likely not go very deep once they hit the top teams.