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Finland announces their Men’s Olympic roster with some familiar names

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We revisit a cautionary tale on assuming KHL success will cross the Atlantic with ease.

Toronto Maple Leafs Headshots Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

Today the Finnish hockey federation announced their Men’s Olympic roster:

(Note: this is the list as provided on the Finnish federation website, so you get to see some city names in Finnish.)

Goaltenders:

19 Koskinen Mikko, SKA Pietari, KHL

31 Rämö Karri, Jokerit Helsinki, KHL

77 Metsola Juha, Amur Habarovsk, KHL

Defenders:

2 Lehtonen Mikko, Tappara Tampere

4 Kivistö Tommi, Jokerit Helsinki, KHL

5 Kukkonen Lasse, Kärpät Oulu

18 Lepistö Sami, Jokerit Helsinki, KHL

38 Hietanen Juuso, Dynamo Moskova, KHL

42 Heiskanen Miro, HIFK Helsinki

50 Koivisto Miika, Kärpät Oulu

55 Ohtamaa Atte, Ak Bars Kazan, KHL

Forwards:

12 Anttila Marko, Jokerit Helsinki, KHL

13 Junttila Julius, Kärpät Oulu

20 Tolvanen Eeli, Jokerit Helsinki, KHL

23 Kemppainen Joonas, Salavat Julajev Ufa, KHL

24 Lajunen Jani, HC Lugano, NLA

25 Enlund Jonas, Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL

27 Kontiola Petri, Lokomotiv Jaroslavl, KHL

37 Pyörälä Mika, SC Bern, NLA

40 Koskiranta Jarno, SKA Pietari, KHL

62 Osala Oskar, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL

65 Manninen Sakari, Örebro HK, SHL

70 Hartikainen Teemu, Salavat Julajev Ufa, KHL

81 Peltola Jukka, Tappara Tampere

86 Savinainen Veli-Matti, Jugra Hanty-Mansijsk, KHL

Notable for a Finnish team that is often a little older than it should be, this roster includes two 2017 draft picks — the phenomenal Eeli Tolvanen who is breaking rookie records in the KHL, and the impressive Miro Heisakanen who plays in the Finnish Liiga.

Familiar to Leafs fans is goalie Kari Rämmo, who rehabbed from surgery for a while with the Marlies. He’s been working his way back through the Liiga, and now plays for Jokerit, a team sending both of their top goalies to the Olympics.

Also on the list is Lokomotiv top-line forward, and favourite of mine, Petri Kontiola. To many Leafs fans, who want only to remember that past management wasn’t up to par, he’s a joke. To me, he’s a great KHL scoring forward, who is also a solid forechecker and plays on one of the most North American lines in the KHL. His usual linemates are Max Talbot and Brandon Kozun. They combine speed and toughness, shooting skill and grit, French profanity and Finnish, and they are deeply loved by their fans in Yaroslavl.

If Kontiola were 23 today and not 33, he may well crack an NHL lineup with his skillset. But perhaps not. The KHL game is a different game. The ice size is just the start of the difference, and it’s not uncommon for older players to still succeed, at least in part because the season isn’t 82 games long with four or five games a week.

Kontiola has 100 goals and 185 assists in 441 KHL games. He had five points in six games played for Team Finland in Sochi.

But if you get the chance, watch Eeli Tolvanen, he’s someone very special.