Here are the Finnish players we'll be keeping an eye on at the 2013 WJHC starting December 26th. This is not a ranking of their top players or prospects, just the guys that we're interested in scouting and assessing their future fantasy hockey potential.
#16 Aleksander Barkov, C (2013 Eligible) - I wasn't that impressed when he became a regular in the SM-Liiga last season or when he played in the WJCs as a 16-year-old last year. What does impress me is when he came out of the gates this season with 14+14=28 in 32 games to lead all U-20 players and sits top 15 in SM-Liiga scoring. The real scouts were impressed as well as the main services have him ranked at #3 for the 2013 draft and some are suggesting that he go even higher. We'll see how he performs when the pressure of everyone watching is on.
#10 Joel Armia, RW (BUF-2011-1st-#16) - He has good skills & size and has proven that he can finish with 18 goals in each of the past two seasons in SM-Liiga. He has a great track record of strong performances at international competitions and this will be his third appearance at the WJCs coming off 5+2=7 in seven games at last year's event.
#28 Artturi Lehkonen, RW (2013 Eligible) - In what is a strong draft class for the Finns, most rankings have Lehkonen going in the 1st round of the 2013 draft. Not big (5'11" & 159) but he owns a big shot and plenty of finishing ability. He led the 2012 U-18s in goals with 7+3=10 in seven games and is 2nd in SM-Liiga scoring amongst U-20s with 9+13=22 in 32 games. Kudos to him for making the WJC team this year but it might be a year early to expect him to shine.
#20 Teuvo Teravainen, LW (CHI-2012-1st-#18) - He had a nice buzz going last year as a 17-year-old regular in SM-Liiga and winning Rookie of the Year that had some suggesting that he could go top five in the NHL draft. He ended up slipping to Chicago at #18 and while he started this season slowly he left for the WJCs with a very solid 8+11=19 in 24 games for Jokerit.
#5 Rasmus Ristolainen, D (2013 Eligible) - Lots of international experience (including last year's WJC) and pro seasoning for this big dman. The numbers may suggest that he'll just be a defensive dman in the NHL but I'll be watching him to see if he has an underrated offensive game that is masked by the fact that he is always playing above his age group.
Others to Watch:
#30 Joonas Korpisalo, G (CBJ-2012-3rd-#62) - Drafted by Columbus last year after they already took Oscar Dansk in the 2nd round, Korpisalo was named the top goalie in the Finnish Jr. league last year.
#2 Olli Maatta, D (PIT-2012-1st-#22) - A solid two-way dman that has questionable offensive upside. Really thrived in the 2012 postseason with 6+17=23 in 19 games for London (OHL).
#12 Ville Pokka, D (NYI-2012-2nd-#34) - Impressed as an underager at the 2012 WJCs with 1+3=4 in seven games but may be seen as more of a two-way guy in the future.
#11 Markus Granlund, C (CGY-2011-2nd-#45) - Like his older brother Mikael he's been a big scorer at every level but will he be able to step out of his brother's shadow and lead this squad at in Ufa?
#23 Saku Salminen, C (2013 Eligible) - I'll be keeping an eye on Salminen as he's a player I don't know much about... good size (6'3" & 198) but the numbers suggest that he has trouble scoring goals.
Anyone I missed?... let me know in the comments.