The Columbus Blue Jackets are set to play a two game series against the Colorado Avalanche in Finland over the next two days. In honor of the host country, we wanted to take a look at their contributions to the NHL currently by building an All Star roster of their best players in the league today.
Considerations will be given by position, but not strictly adhered to. This will be a 20 man roster (12-6-2) of current Finnish-born players in the NHL. Let’s have some fun!
Sebastian Aho - Aleksander Barkov - Mikko Rantanen
Roope Hintz - Mikael Granlund - Patrik Laine
Artturi Lehkonen - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Kasperi Kapanen
Jesse Puljujarvi - Erik Haula - Kaapo Kakko
Finland produces some quality forwards, to say the least. Aleksander Barkov, the best of the bunch, is currently the leading scorer among active Finns with 221-340-561 in 605 games played and is the captain of the Florida Panthers. Mikko Rantanen won a Stanley Cup for the Colorado Avalanche last summer, while Sebastian Aho is taking a massive step for the Carolina Hurricanes this season.
Patrik Laine is a singular goal scoring talent, while Mikael Granlund has had a productive NHL career for the Predators and Wild. Center depth drops off for the Finns, but plenty of talented offensive wingers are available to pick up the slack.
Miro Heiskanen - Esa Lindell
Jani Hakanpaa - Rasmus Ristolainen
Olli Maata - Henri Jokiharju
The Finnish defense have Miro Heiskanen. That’s good!
They also have … some guys!
This is certainly the weakest part of the Finnish NHL contingent, but Miro Heiskanen is a legitimate star in the league. Olli Maata has had a successful career, while Jani Hakanpaa has managed to become an NHL regular for the stars. Rasmus Ristolainen has been seen as a subpar defenseman for much of his career, but has played 608 career games with 261 career points.
Finland’s strength is in net. Jusse Saros, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last season, has a career .929 save percentage and a 1.97 career goals against average for the Nashville Predators. He is one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. For his backup, we have selected Antti Raanta, the current backup for the Carolina Hurricanes. Raanta for his career has a .919 save percentage and a 2.45 goals against average, solid numbers. For reference, the reason Joonas Korpisalo (despite Finnish heritage and Columbus pedigree) was not selected is his career 3.04 GAA and .902 SV%.
Who are your favorite Finnish players? Let us know below!