World Juniors 2024

Meet the Team: Finland's roster for the 2024 World Juniors

Finland enters yet another World Juniors tournament as a dark horse contender.

Player-for-player, their lineup can't hold a candle to what USA, Sweden, and even Canada. A deep run can still very much be in the cards, but it's going to require significant overachieving, both at the individual and at the team level. 

It has happened before. Let's take a look at how the lineup is shaping up.

The Roster

This is approximately how I'd expect the lineup to look at the start of the tournament.

The absence of Joakim Kemell is obviously a big blow for the team. That being said, there's quite a bit of goalscoring ability on the wings this year.

Jani Nyman is tied for Liiga's goalscoring lead with 14 in 28 outings, and Lenni Hämeenaho isn't too far behind with his 11 goals in 26 games. Kasper Halttunen might be a flawed player, but he's still been a top-10 goalscorer in the OHL this season. Potential 2024 first-rounder Emil Hemming is also known for his shooting ability and was Finland's top point-getter at the most recent U20 tournament in November. Then there's also Arttu Kärki who leads the OHL in goals among defencemen by a wide margin.

However, the biggest spotlight will be on the 17-year-old Konsta Helenius, who has made a very strong impression in both league and international play and slots in as the clear-cut top centre in my eyes. Finland has historically received strong World Juniors performances from their top draft-eligible talent, and if Helenius can follow down the same path, he could contend for a top-five pick in the 2024 draft.

The two other centre spots in the top-nine will very likely belong to Oiva Keskinen and Jere Lassila. Keskinen has made a surprisingly smooth transition into full-time Liiga duty on the best team in the league, while Lassila has skated as JYP's top-line centre for large stretches and has historically been a top contributor and the captain for his age group internationally.

The defence corps is where the lack of top-end talent really starts to show. The team could've really used Aron Kiviharju's talents, but unfortunately, the 17-year-old hasn't played since September due to an injury.

Kärki is expected to play a big role both at 5-on-5 and on the power play while Kasper Kulonummi and Otto Salin have both been solid in international play this season and have established themselves as full-time Liiga players.

However, the true wild card is Jesse Pulkkinen who has quickly become one of the most intriguing overagers for the upcoming draft. A big tournament from him could go a long way in fixing the holes in the defence corps. 

The only 2004-born goalie on the team, Niklas Kokko, has been primed for the starter position the entire season. He has the potential for a big tournament; if this team ends up contending, Kokko is the most likely candidate to be the MVP of the team.


Samu Bau, C, Ilves (Liiga)

Arizona Coyotes, 2023 NHL Draft, sixth round, 162nd overall

Samu Bau is the quintessential fourth-line forward for a tournament like this. He's filled that same role for Ilves' Liiga team for the second season in a row, earning himself a sixth-round selection in the previous draft as an overager. The 6-foot-5 forward can play either down the middle or on the wing and provides most of his value on the forecheck and through his defensive game.

Kasper Halttunen, RW, London Knights (OHL)

San Jose Sharks, 2023 NHL Draft, second round, 36th overall

Joining the London Knights for his draft-plus-one campaign, Kasper Halttunen's scoring ability has translated to the smaller rinks immediately, ranking among the top-10 goal-scorers in the OHL. When he's cooking, his handling skill and physical edge combined with a lethal shot make him a potential top-line forward on this team. Expect to see him bomb one-timers from the left half wall on the power play.

Konsta Helenius, C, Jukurit (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft

Konsta Helenius' strong first half of the season has elevated him into a serious top-five contender for the upcoming draft. He's very intelligent and inside-driven, a capable playmaker and an increasingly dangerous scorer from range, too. He's also a strong competitor who comes out on top from the majority of battles despite often entering them with size disadvantage. Add in his defensive details and you got yourself the best and most complete player on the team, even if he's only 17 years old. 

Emil Hemming, RW, TPS (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft

Another potential first-round talent for the upcoming draft, Emil Hemming dominated the U20 league for the first few weeks before getting called up to TPS' Liiga squad, having added six goals in 26 outings while mostly playing bottom-six minutes. Hemming has plenty of handling skill and one of the best wrist shots on the team, but has also improved as a skater and two-way player. A big tournament could elevate him into top-20 contention. 

Lenni Hämeenaho, RW, Ässät (Liiga)

New Jersey Devils, 2023 NHL Draft, second round, 58th overall

Despite the obvious skating flaws, Lenni Hämeenaho has developed into a legitimate top-line forward for Ässät in his second Liiga season, even if he's cooled off a bit since his red-hot start. His scoring touch, nose for the net and intelligence away from the puck could make him an ideal partner for Helenius, and it wouldn't surprise me if the two ended up racking up the most points on the team.

Aleksanteri Kaskimäki, LW, HIFK (Liiga)

St. Louis Blues, 2022 NHL Draft, third round, 73rd overall

Aleksanteri Kaskimäki has been flying under the radar compared to his higher-scoring counterparts, but he's still a good bet to play top-nine minutes on this team. He's a versatile piece who brings speed and energy to a lineup where most of the top forwards have skating as their weakness. Having added seven points in his last eight games with HIFK, he's also coming into the tournament with a hot stick.

Oiva Keskinen, C, Tappara (Liiga)

Columbus Blue Jackets, 2023 NHL Draft, seventh round, 194th overall

Oiva Keskinen's breakout draft-plus-one season at the U20 level earned him a seventh-round pick, and that selection is already paying dividends for the Blue Jackets. Keskinen's playmaking and puck skills are the star of the show, but he's also a very capable finisher despite only having three goals this season. Expect him to fill one of the centre spots in the top-nine and get a big role on the power play.

Jesse Kiiskinen, RW, Pelicans (Liiga)

Nashville Predators, 2023 NHL Draft, third round, 68th overall

Always having been a top performer for his age group internationally, Jesse Kiiskinen is developing into a well-rounded winger. Even if he's yet to score much in Liiga, he's established a consistent role with the Pelicans and projects to play top-nine minutes on this team. Kiiskinen has the shot and skill to produce when put in the right situation, but he can also bring solid two-way play and forechecking pressure.

Max Koskipirtti, C, Michigan Tech (NCAA)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Max Koskipirtti is among the more unknown players on this team, not having played any international games before last season. However, his development is trending in the right direction and he's already been one of Michigan Tech's top point-getters in his freshman season. He has the offensive touch to play higher in the lineup if there are injuries, but he's probably going to start the tournament in a small role.

Rasmus Kumpulainen, C, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Minnesota Wild, 2023 NHL Draft, second round, 53rd overall

Rasmus Kumpulainen's decision to make the jump to the OHL looks to have been the right one. The 6-foot-3 centre currently leads the Oshawa Generals in points while also providing his usual two-way value through meticulous play in the defensive end. Kumpulainen's role on this team is the hardest to predict among forwards, as he could both fill the fourth-line centre duties or play on the wing higher in the lineup. 

Jere Lassila, C, JYP (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Jere Lassila has taken full advantage of JYP's weak centre depth and established himself as a full-time top-six fit on the team. He's a versatile player who's often in the right place at the right time, takes care of his defensive responsibilities and has always had a knack for producing, even if he's not the most dynamic player on the team. Alongside Helenius and Keskinen, he should take one of the top-nine centre spots while also serving as the captain of the team.

Tommi Männistö, RW, Michigan State (NCAA)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Tommi Männistö is the prototypical bottom-six energy winger. He's among the fastest, if not the fastest skater on the team, finishes his checks on the forecheck and can create the odd counter-attack off the rush with his speed. He's among the forwards who could be the final cut, but his style of play makes him an enticing option for the fourth line.

Janne Naukkarinen, RW, SaiPa (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft

Much like Koskipirtti, Janne Naukkarinen hasn't generated much draft hype in the past, but his developmental trajectory has been intriguing over the past year. He made his national team debut last season and has recently played top-six minutes for SaiPa's Liiga team. Naukkarinen skated on the top line in the first pre-tournament, which might hint that the coaching staff has a bigger role planned for him than initially believed. 

Jani Nyman, RW, Ilves (Liiga)

Seattle Kraken, 2022 NHL Draft, second round, 49th overall

Jani Nyman is in the midst of a true breakout campaign with Ilves' Liiga squad. He's currently tied for league-lead in goals; naturally, he'll be expected to be a primary offensive carry on this team, too. Nyman's outside-leg wrister is a work of art, but he's also a threat to score with his one-timer on the man-advantage. He's not the most agile skater, but can also create his own chances through handling skill and good timing. 


Kalle Kangas, D, Jokerit (Mestis)

Pittsburg Penguins, 2023 NHL Draft, seventh round, 223rd overall

Kalle Kangas has established himself as a top-four fit with Jokerit's newly-found Mestis team. He still concedes too much space for the opposition off the rush, but has had more offensive flashes compared to last season and handles himself relatively gracefully on breakouts most of the time. He'll be competing for a bottom-pairing role on this team. 

Kasper Kulonummi, D, Tappara (Liiga)

Nashville Predators, 2022 NHL Draft, third round, 84th overall

Tappara's roster strength has limited Kasper Kulonummi's ice time during his first full Liiga season, having averaged around 12 minutes through 25 outings. He's still among the better all-around defencemen on this roster, possessing both the agility and the intelligence to contribute on both ends of the rink. Expect him to munch a lot of minutes at 5-on-5 in a top-pairing role.

Arttu Kärki, D, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)

Vegas Golden Knights, 2023 NHL Draft, third round, 96th overall

Arttu Kärki has been a revelation for the Soo Greyhounds in his first OHL season, leading the entire team in goals as a defenceman. His prowess as a shooter and distributor in the offensive zone has translated immediately, and he's expected to quarterback Finland's top power play unit at this tournament. Kärki still has his shortcomings defensively, so pairing him with someone like Kulonummi seems like the best course of action.

Emil Pieniniemi, D, Kärpät (Liiga)

Pittsburgh Penguins, 2023 NHL Draft, third round, 91st overall

Emil Pieniniemi has been stuck playing in a very limited role for Kärpät's Liiga squad, although he was recently loaned to play a few Mestis games to get more minutes before the tournament. Pieniniemi's mechanical limitations are still prevalent, but he shows willingness to make plays from the point and his aggression as a rush defender hasn't disappeared anywhere. He'll be competing for a bottom-pairing role on this team.

Jesse Pulkkinen, D, JYP (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Jesse Pulkkinen has had the steepest developmental curve over the past year out of any player on this team. He's gone from relative obscurity to the most productive blueliner at the U20 level and has also impressed in his first career Liiga games after being promoted in late November. The 6-foot-6 defenceman has the skill and the confidence to drop a few jaws throughout this tournament. He's not going get passed in his second year of eligibility, but a big showing here could catapult his draft stock into new heights.

[Read more: How Jesse Pulkkinen went from unknown draft prospect to Finland's highest-scoring junior defenceman]

Otto Salin, D, HIFK (Liiga)

Los Angeles Kings, 2022 NHL Draft, fifth round, 148th overall

The only returning defenceman from last year, Otto Salin's role with HIFK has fluctuated during his second Liiga season and his production has taken a slight step backwards in the process. Still, he should be primed for a top-four role on this team due to his puck-moving ability, offensive flair and experience. He's also a strong candidate to quarterback one of the power play units. 

Joona Väisänen, D, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Joona Väisänen is another late bloomer who didn't make his national team debut until last season when he was one of the best defencemen at the U20 level. He's continued his strong efforts in the USHL, being one of the highest-scoring players at his position after the first half of the season. Väisänen is a smooth operator with the puck, which could ultimately earn him a bottom-pairing role on this team.

Veeti Väisänen, D, KooKoo (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft

The youngest member of the defence corpse, Veeti Väisänen has managed to break into KooKoo's Liiga lineup as a 17-year-old. Even if his minutes have been very limited recently, his strong skating and defensive fundamentals could end up earning him a bottom-pairing role on this team. He gaps up early and uses his mobility as a defensive weapon, but has also learned to use his body while playing against men. 


Niklas Kokko, G, Kärpät (Liiga)

Seattle Kraken, 2022 NHL Draft, second round, 58th overall

Finland's crease is Niklas Kokko's to lose. The 6-foot-4 netminder has been slowly primed into Liiga duties after spending the majority of last season in Mestis, having appeared in 10 games with Kärpät so far. Though Kokko might not be the most notable goalie prospect in the tournament, he has the potential to steal a deciding game. 

Noa Vali, G, TPS (Liiga)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

If Noa Vali was a few inches taller, he would've likely been picked in the previous draft after a promising season between his league and international play. He's continued on a promising track, having appeared in 13 Liiga games while putting up really good stats at the U20 level. He'll be competing for the starting position next year.

Eemil Vinni, G, JoKP (Mestis)

2024 NHL Draft

Despite having just turned 18 years old, Eemil Vinni has been on the radar of scouts for a long time now. He made his Liiga debut with HIFK last year and has spent this season on a Mestis loan. The 6-foot-2 netminder has been really good internationally this season, having allowed just 1.39 goals per game through his five starts. If Kokko runs into trouble, expect Vinni to get a real shot at the starting role.

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This article is about:
World Juniors 2024 Finland U20 Finland U20 (all) WJC-20 Samu Bau Kasper Halttunen Konsta Helenius Emil Hemming Lenni Hämeenaho Kalle Kangas Aleksanteri Kaskimäki Oiva Keskinen Jesse Kiiskinen Niklas Kokko Max Koskipirtti Kasper Kulonummi Rasmus Kumpulainen Arttu Kärki Jere Lassila Tommi Männistö Janne Naukkarinen Jani Nyman Emil Pieniniemi Jesse Pulkkinen Otto Salin Noa Vali Eemil Vinni Joona Väisänen Veeti Väisänen
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