Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru
June brings a new series, delving into the archives to bring the leading KHL players from the different countries that have contributed to the league since 2008. After Canada, we have a look at Finland, a land brimful of love for hockey, and a steady producer of high-level players. Here are the best Finnish performers in a single season.

Goalies

Most wins in one season

Karri Ramo (33 with Avangard in 2010-2011)

Juha Metsola (28 with Amur in 2017-2018)

One of the best-ever goalies to play in the league, it’s not a surprise to see Karri Ramo atop this ranking. The veteran netminder had two stints in the KHL, first defending Avangard’s crease for four seasons, then spending two injury-rigged campaigns with Jokerit and again with Avangard. Ramo’s record-breaking performance happened in his second year in the league. Avangard took the top of the standings with a whopping 118 points, but in the playoffs, they lost to Metallurg Magnitogorsk 4-3 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Avangard and Ramo eventually got to the Gagarin Cup finals the next year, without having a chance to actually lift the trophy as Dynamo Moscow defeated them 4-3 again. Most recently, Ramo stopped pucks for Djurgardens in the Swedish Hockey League.

Juha Metsola is also regarded as one of the best netminders in the KHL. However, it’s surprising to see that his career-high in single-season wins came in Khabarovsk, and not in Ufa. In 2017-2018, Amur returned to the playoffs after a five-year hiatus, mostly thanks to the exceptional play of its starting netminder. However, unfortunately for the Far East franchise, their journey in the playoffs was short. They managed to win their first postseason game but lost 1-4 to Ak Bars in the first round. After that breakout performance, and representing Finland at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Metsola moved to Salavat Yulaev, where he is still playing.

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Most shutouts in one season

Juha Metsola (7 with Amur Khabarovsk in 2016-2017)

Juha Metsola (7 with Salavat Yulaev in 2019-2020)

One year before the record-breaking, 28-win campaign, Juha Metsola set a record for the most shutouts among Finn goalies in 2016-2017, besting Ramo’s five clean sheets in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. That year, Amur ended 22nd in the standings, failing to reach the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. Despite the team’s disappointing performance, Metsola’s game was stellar. Two of his shutouts came at the expense of Metallurg Novokuznetsk. He also had a 34-save shutout in China against Kunlun Red Star, when Salavat Yulaev made it a three-point game with a shootout by Alexei Byvaltsev.

In 2019-2020, Metsola repeated the feat, with seven shutouts. Once again, he had a fantastic performance against Kunlun, stopping a total of 73 shots in two games to allow Salavat Yulaev to win both times. Moreover, he recorded a shutout in his former city of residence, Khabarovsk, but this time, Amur had the last laugh with a SO goal by Vyacheslav Ushenin. Metsola is still under contract with Salavat Yulaev, and he will look to set a new record for the longest shutout streak or the most shutouts in a season. Currently, Metsola is the goalie with most shutouts in Salavat Yulaev’s history.

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Defensemen

Most points in one season

Mikko Lehtonen 49 (17+32) in 60 games with Jokerit in 2019-2020

Juuso Hietanen 38 (13+25) with Dynamo Moscow in 2019-2020

It’s interesting to see that both records were established last year as Lehtonen and Hietanen both had a breakout season in Helsinki and Moscow, respectively. Mikko Lehtonen had a stellar first season in the KHL — so good that, in fact, it is the only one so far in the league as the prolific D-man signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the next season. Lehtonen had an incredible showing with Jokerit, scoring 17 times for the Jokers and leading the KHL with 32 assists from the blue line. He also led the league among defensemen in goals and with a +26 rating.

Juuso Hietanen, one of the longest-serving imports still active in the league, always scored a lot. However, he never scored as many as last time, when he had 13 goals and 25 assists for Dynamo Moscow. It’s not the first time that the Finn D-man, born in Hameenlinna, passed the 30-point mark, as he did wearing both the Torpedo and Dynamo jerseys. Differently from Lehtonen, Hietanen will keep on playing in the KHL next year as he will line up for Dynamo again.

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Most goals in one season

Mikko Lehtonen 17 in 60 games with Jokerit in 2019-2020

Mikko Maenpaa 14 with Amur in 2011-2012

We have already talked about Lehtonen’s season — he managed to beat by three goals Mikko Maenpaa’s 14-goal performance with Amur almost a decade ago. At that time, Amur had a strong connection with Finn players, as their head coach was Hannu Jortikka. Maenpaa had a fantastic season with Amur, and for the 2012-2013 season, he signed with CSKA Moscow. However, he didn’t last long with the Red Army and played the next season and a half with HC Lev before signing in Switzerland. After two years with HC Ambri-Piotta, he returned home, signing with JYP.

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Best +/- in one season

Mikko Lehtonen +26 in 60 games with Jokerit in 2019-2020

Tommi Kivisto +22 in 55 games with Jokerit in 2017-2018

Tommi Kivisto was never considered a strong offensive defenseman — in fact, his contribution in terms of points has always been modest — but there is another word that can define him with more success: reliability. In his first year with Jokerit, after an unimpressive −20 in Yekaterinburg in 2016-2017, Kivisto posted a stellar +22 rating, leading all Jokerit defensemen in the plus/minus department. Kivisto remains a primary option for the Jokers on the blue line and even for the Finnish national team, having skated for the Lions in several international tournaments, including the 2018 Winter Olympics. The native of Vantaa is under contract in Helsinki for a further season.

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Forwards

Most points in one season

Esa Pirnes 51 (22+28) in 50 games with Atlant in 2008-2009

Sakari Manninen 48 (20+28) in 62 games with Jokerit in 2018-2019

Traveling at a point-per-game pace, Pirnes, in the KHL’s inaugural season, set a record that will be hard to beat for any other Finn player. Considering the incredible season he had, it’s strange to think that the 2008-09 campaign was the only one in the league for Pirnes. He also set the second-best, all-time performance for goals scored by a Finnish player with 22. After his breakout season with Atlant, Pirnes signed with Jokerit, although still playing in the Finnish league, then played in Switzerland and Sweden before retiring after three seasons spent with his hometown club, Karpat Oulu.

Before moving to Salavat Yulaev, Manninen had an incredible season with Jokerit in 2018-2019. The agile forward seemed to be able to score at will in certain moments, such as when he netted a hat-trick in Shangai against Kunlun Red Star on Jan. 13, 2019. After a high-scoring season in Helsinki, Manninen was acquired by Salavat Yulaev in exchange for two Finn players in North America and monetary compensation. In Ufa, Manninen didn’t manage to repeat the success he had with Jokerit, but remained a productive player, especially in the second part of the season. The native of Oulu still has a year of contract with Salavat Yulaev.

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Most goals in one season

Teemu Pulkkinen 23 in 50 games with Dinamo Minsk and Dynamo Moscow in 2019-2020

Esa Pirnes 22 in 50 games with Atlant in 2008-2009

In his second year in the KHL after a solid 2018-2019 campaign in Minsk, Teemu Pulkkinen had a tremendous start of the 2019-2020 season with the Belarusian franchise. However, Dinamo Minsk failed to reach the playoffs despite Pulkkinen’s stellar play. The next year, the pattern was similar, Dinamo Minsk kept on piling up losses, and Pulkkinen continued scoring at a record pace. At the trade deadline, however, the Finn was approached by a leading team — Dynamo Moscow — which he helped moving up a level as the playoffs were getting closer. He lighted the red lamp another six times in Moscow, stopping at 23 — a new record for Finn players. Next year, Pulkkinen will continue scoring goals in Moscow.

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Most assists in one season

Petri Kontiola 34 in 54 games with Metallurg in 2010-2011

Jarno Koskiranta 32 in 58 games with Sibir in 2014-2015

A highly-productive player, Kontiola first got to the KHl in 2009, signing with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. On the Urals, as later he played in Chelyabinsk, he played some of his best years. In particular, in 2010-2011, when he posted a career-high 48 (14+34) points. Metallurg had a strong showing in the postseason as well, ending its season in the conference finals against the eventual champion — Salavat Yulaev. He was also a regular fixture for the Finnish national team, having skated with the Leijonat at both the Sochi and Pyeongchang Olympics and at several WCs. After his tenure on the Southern Urals, Kontiola lined up with Lokomotiv and Jokerit in the KHL. Currently, he’s without a contract for the 2020-2021 campaign.

Jarno Koskiranta needed a year of adaptation to the KHL as he scored only 13 (7+6) points in his first season with Sibir. The next year, he posted a career-high of 45 (23+32) points in 2014-2015, adding another five goals and six points in Sibir’s memorable playoff run. After being an offensive dynamo in Novosibirsk, Koskiranta moved to St. Petersburg, where he successfully transitioned to an elite two-way forward for the Armymen, where he played for the next five seasons. For the 2020-2021 campaign, Koskiranta signed a contract in the Finnish Liiga after his seven-year tenure in the KHL.

For the purposes of this series, players who took a second nationality after moving to the KHL are counted according to their nationality when they first joined the league.

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Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru

Related clubs

Avangard (Omsk) Avangard (Omsk)
Amur (Khabarovsk) Amur (Khabarovsk)
Atlant (Moscow Region) Atlant (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Dynamo (Moscow) Dynamo (Moscow)
Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Salavat Yulaev (Ufa) Salavat Yulaev (Ufa)
Sibir (Novosibirsk Region) Sibir (Novosibirsk Region)
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