Finland is looking to return to their previous glory of 2016 with the announcement of the players who are invited to their selection camp ahead of the 2018 IIHF World Juniors. There are few returnees, but the players selected have deep resumes on the international stage. Forwards who the Finnish brass hope can help the team return to the medal round include Aleksi Heponiemi (69 points in 28 games with Swift Current), Janne Kuokkanen (who’s played in the NHL this season with Carolina) and Eeli Tolvanen (lighting up the KHL as an 18-year-old). Finland has a strong defense this year, but the forward group looks very scary this year.
We are all excited about the annual holiday premier hockey tournament, so much so that the announcement for the list of players invited to the selection camp to decide who will play in the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship that will take place in Buffalo, New York starting on December 26th. Finland is a team who won gold at the 2016 tournament but fell all the way to the Relegation round a year later thanks to a disastrous round robin.
Today, we look at the goaltenders and defensemen who were named to the selection camp. It’s a very strong group on the backend, with all 9 defensemen picked in the first 4 rounds of the NHL draft while also having large resumes of international play with Finland’s youth teams. This Finland team will be closer to the 2016 Gold winning club than the team that almost lost to Latvia in the Relegation round.
The NHL Draft eligible players coming out of the Western Hockey League for 2018 is rather scarce. There are four defensemen who could be called upon in the first 62 picks, but after that, it is anybody’s guess. However, the group of players who were passed on in the 2017 NHL Draft is a strong one and there is a good chance that a few of 19-year-olds will be picked in June. Let’s take a look at the Draft +1 players with the best chance of being taken this year.