A group of 54 players made the Finnish Olympic hockey camp, which was the most by an country announcing their invitees this week. Included on that list are some great players, primarily in net. Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Niklas Backstrom, Antti Niemi, and Kari Lehtonen between the lead pipes is enough to cause heart palpitations for opposing countries. Yet there are two forwards with interesting ties both to the Edmonton Oilers and Oklahoma City Barons, and I couldn’t be happier for the both of them.
Teemu Hartikainen and Lennart Petrell have both received invites after tours through the annals of Oilerdom (with stops in Oklahoma City). This is huge for both gentleman as they have an opportunity to battle for their country as very few have a chance to do. The problem is this, they’ve not made the team just yet, but if they do they’ll play in a tough grouping that features Canada and Norway (and to a much lesser extent, Austria). “Group B” will be entertaining to watch, not only because these two players could be involved, but because Finland has had incredible success in recent international play taking silver in 2006 and bronze in 2010. The mighty gold medal still alludes them, but they are getting closer.
Hartikainen, settling into his new digs with the KHL in Ufa, has to be ecstatic about his return to international play. Previously he spent time with U18 & U20 teams while in Finland, as well as some International Jr. play for over 50 games. He’s a Finn, and he takes pride in his country.
Likewise, Petrell, after returning to Edmonton in 2012-2013 following overseas play in the SM-ligga, will have a chance to play for the country he loves. You’ll recall that Lennart Petrell had a 9 game stint with the Oklahoma City Barons that was anything but terrible, and it placed him somewhere between being a 29 year old prospect and a 29 year old NHL player. The jury is still out on that one.
Regardless, this is huge news for both players. In addition, the opportunity to play alongside Teemu Selanne (who’s yet to make a decision on his return to play) is worth the chance alone.
BONUS: If Granlund or Hartikainen agree to play right wing, how about a Barkov centered line with Granlund and Hartikainen as wingers? YES PLEASE!