The preliminary rosters for the World Junior camps continue to pour in, and it looks like host nation of the tournament will have some Leafs content after all.
Finland has announced their roster today (link in Finnish), and included on it is Kasperi Kapanen.
Kasperi Kapanen (Leafs/Marlies) joins camp next week, Mikko Rantanen (Colorado/San Antonio) plays in AHL Dec 21 and fly to Finland after.
— Juha Hiitelä (@jhiitela) December 7, 2015
It seemed unlikely that the Leafs would keep one of their top prospects from playing in a premiere tournament in his home country, but without confirmation and with the unique handling of players by Lou Lamoriello, you couldn’t assume with 100% certainty.
Kapanen hasn’t had an ideal start to the season for the Marlies, picking up nine points in his first 15 games this season, and while that’s far from terrible, Nylander has set a rather high bar for 19 year olds on the team.
Where Nylander looks like he’ll be above the competition whether he plays in the AHL or the World Juniors, Kapanen is a player who likely needs to spend more time in the AHL to develop into a future top six NHLer, and the World Juniors might be viewed as a break in that development.
Of course, it’s just a few weeks and the Marlies are in a good spot, so let the kid for his country.
The rest of the Finnish camp roster looks like this…
Kaapo Kahkonen, Blues Espoo (Liiga)
Emil Larmi, Peliitat Heinola (Mestis)
Veini Vehvilainen, JYP Jyvaskyla (Liiga)
Olli Juolevi, London Knights (OHL)
Miro Keskitalo, TPS Turku (Liiga)
Jesper Mattila, Ilves Tampere (Liiga)
Niko Mikkola, KalPa Kuopio (Liiga)
Sami Niku, JYP Jyvaskyla (Liiga)
Vili Saarijarvi, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Robin Salo, Vaasan Sport (Liiga)
Eetu Sopanen, Peliitat Heinola (Mestis)
Joni Tuulola, HPK Hameenlinna (Liiga)
Urho Vaakanainen, Espoo Blues (Liiga)
Sebastian Aho, Karpat Oulu (Liiga)
Kasper Bjorkqvist, Espoo Blues (Liiga)
Roope Hintz, HIFK Helsinki (Liiga)
Antti Kalapudas, Karpat Oulu (Liiga)
Patrik Laine, Tappara Tampere (Liiga)
Juho Lammikko, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Miro Makinen, Jukurit Mikkeli (Mestis)
Julius Nattinen, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat Oulu (Liiga)
Sebastian Repo, Pelicans Lahti (Liiga)
Aleksi Saarela, Assat Pori (Liiga)
Miska Siikonen, Pelicans Lahti (Liiga)
Jonne Tammela, KalPa Kuopio (Liiga)
Patrik Virta, TPS Turku (Liiga)
The names Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi should leap out at everyone, as they are potential top five picks in the draft this season and along with Kapanen will be important for Leafs fans to watch. Both are wingers with size who could compliment one of the Leafs center prospects.
Notable WJC camp invite for Finland is 16 year old and 1999 born defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (whose name I will botch more than once).
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) December 7, 2015
The fact that Finland has a 16 year old in the tournament certainly should make Vaakanainen a player to watch as well. It’s never too early to start thinking about the 2017 Draft.
Finland has put together a solid roster that is very capable of competing for the gold on their home soil and with Kapanen being one of their more experienced players it’s a good opportunity to see what he can do with significant ice time on a scoring line against what should be some good competition in the games against Russia, and maybe the Czechs.