Kakko of Rangers wont play for Finland at World Junior Championship


Finland general manager Kimmo Oikarinen had hoped the 19-year-old forward would be available, but he was not on the 31-player preliminary roster released Friday.

Kakko, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, helped Finland win the 2019 WJC as a 17-year-old, when he scored five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games, including the game-winning goal against the United States in the championship game.

Forward Anton Lundell, selected by the Florida Panthers with the No. 12 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, is one of two first-round NHL draft picks under consideration for the team.

Each of the 31 players on the preliminary roster will quarantine at home beginning Sunday and go through three COVID-19 tests before a final roster of three goalies, eight defensemen and 14 forwards is named Dec. 12.

The WJC is scheduled to be held Dec. 25-Jan. 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, with no fans in attendance and in a secure zone similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teams are scheduled to arrive in Edmonton on Dec. 13.

“The team has a variety of different skills,” Finland coach Antti Pennanen said. “We have also wanted to emphasize that we are a committed and united team.”

Lundell (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) has scored 20 points (12 goals, eight assists) in 17 games this season with HIFK in Liiga, Finland’s top professional men’s league. The 19-year-old left-handed center scored four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games for Finland at the 2019 WJC. He was unable to participate in the 2020 WJC because of an upper-body injury.

Defenseman Ville Heinola (5-11, 178), chosen by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 20 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has a chance to play in the World Juniors for the third straight year. He scored two points (one goal, one assist) in five games at the 2019 WJC, and had five assists in seven games at the 2020 WJC. The 19-year-old has scored 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 19 games this season on loan with Lukko in Liiga.

The preliminary roster also includes forward Samuel Helenius (6-6, 201), who was given a B rating on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. Players with a B rating are considered potential second- or third-round picks.

Aatu Raty, an A-rated skater for the 2021 draft, is not on the preliminary roster. The 18-year-old forward (6-1, 177) scored three points (two goals, one assist) in seven games at the 2020 WJC.

Finland will begin play in Group A in the preliminary round against the Germany on Dec. 25, followed by games against Switzerland (Dec. 27), Slovakia (Dec. 30) and Canada (Dec. 31). Group B consists of Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Austria and the United States.

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

Games will be broadcast in the United States on NHL Network.



GOALIES: Joel Blomqvist, Hermes, FIN-2 (Pittsburgh Penguins); Juho Markkanen, Kettera, FIN-2 (Los Angeles Kings); Kari Piiroinen, Tappara, Tuto, FIN-2 (2021 draft eligible); Eetu Randelin, Jukurit Jr., FIN-JR (2021 draft eligible); Roope Taponen, K-Espoo, FIN-2 (2021 draft eligible)

DEFENSEMEN: Santeri Hatakka, Ives, FIN (San Jose Sharks); Ville Heinola, Lukko, FIN (Winnipeg Jets); Mikko Kokkonen, Jukurit, FIN (Toronto Maple Leafs); Rami Maatta, Assat Jr., FIN-JR (2021 draft eligible); Topi Niemela, Karpat, FIN (Toronto Maple Leafs); Valtteri Pulli, TPS Jr., FIN-JR (2021 draft eligible); Kasper Puutio, Karpat Jr., FIN-JR (Florida Panthers); Ruben Rafkin, TPS, FIN (2021 draft eligible); Matias Rajaniemi, Pelicans, FIN (New York Islanders); Eemil Viro, TPS, FIN (Detroit Red Wings)

FORWARDS: Leevi Aaltonen, KalPa, FIN (New York Rangers); Samuel Helenius, JYP, FIN (2021 draft eligible); Roni Hirvonen, Assat, FIN (Toronto Maple Leafs); Roby Jarventie, Ilves, FIN (Ottawa Senators); Benjamin Korhonen, KalPa, FIN (2021 draft eligible); Brad Lambert, JYP, FIN (2022 draft eligible); Anton Lundell, HIFK, FIN (Florida Panthers); Matias Mantykivi, SaiPa, FIN (Boston Bruins); Henri Nikkanen, Jukurit, FIN (Winnipeg Jets); Mikko Petman, Lukko, FIN (2021 draft eligible); Petteri Puhakka, Tappara Jr., FIN-JR (2021 draft eligible); Mikael Pyyhtia, TPS Jr., FIN-JR (Columbus Blue Jackets); Juuso Parssinen, TPS, FIN (Nashville Predators); Aku Raty, Karpat, FIN (Arizona Coyotes); Kasper Simontaival, Tappara, FIN (Los Angeles Kings); Samuel Valkeejarvi, Keupa, FIN-2 (2021 draft eligible)

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