Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru
Earlier in this series, we looked at the imports who enjoyed the most productive KHL seasons compared with their compatriots. Today the talk is about Finland, a country that gave the league high-level goalies, smooth defensemen, and an elevate number of Gagarin Cup winners.

Goalies

  1. Mikko Koskinen (2013-2018; Sibir and SKA) — 261 games, 151 wins, 32 shutouts
  2. Juha Metsola (2015-present; Amur, Salavat Yulaev) — 277 games, 125 wins, 27 shutouts
  3. Karri Ramo (2010-2013, 2017-2019; Avangard, Jokerit) — 247 games, 135 wins, 26 shutouts
  4. Petri Vehanen (2009-2012, 2013-2014; Ak Bars, HC Lev) — 214 games, 115 wins, 20 shutouts)
  5. Harri Sateri (2014-2017, 2019-present; Vityaz, Sibir) — 184 games, 76 wins, 13 shutouts

Mikko Koskinen is currently no longer active in the league as he’s playing with the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL. However, he showed excellent results and stamina with both Sibir and SKA, and if it wasn’t for Igor Shestyorkin, at this point, he’d probably lead in games for Finnish goalies as last year Metsola surpassed him. Another difference from Metsola is that the towering Finn goalie won two Gagarin Cups with SKA, in 2015 and 2017. Koskinen also had plenty of recognition on the international stage. He was awarded Best Goalie honors at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia when he helped the Leijonat get home with silver medals.

One of the best imports in the league, Metsola has accumulated 277 games in the regular season, adding another 28 in the playoffs. Despite his excellent success in the KHL, Metsola remains one of the best players to never had a chance to compete for the Gagarin Cup in the finals. Oddly enough, he also never won a title at home, losing three times in the finals. For the 2020-2021 campaign, Metsola is under contract with Salavat Yulaev.

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One of the best goalies in the KHL early seasons, Karri Ramo was impressive in particular in his second year, when he compiled 33 wins and only five losses, other than five blanks for the Hawks. After four seasons in Omsk, Ramo moved to North America to return for a second stint in the KHL in 2017. The next year, Ramo signed again with Avangard, but he couldn’t actually get to play due to an injury that kept him out for the entire 2018-2019 campaign. After a year in Sweden, Ramo is still waiting for offers for the next season.

Petri Vehanen played only four seasons in the KHL but enjoyed enormous success. He won the Gagarin Cup at his first attempt with Ak Bars Kazan, then backstopped HC Lev to its run to the finals a few years later. The veteran goalie has left a fantastic impression in the league and is still considered one of the most clutch goalies to have stopped pucks in the KHL. After his stint in the Czech Republic with HC Lev, Vehanen played four years in Germany before calling it a career in 2018.

The active goalie with the second-most games in the KHL among Finnish players is Harri Sateri, who will guard Sibir’s crease in the 2020-2021 season. Sateri has competed in 187 regular-season games in the league and will have a chance to climb up the rankings.

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Defensemen

  1. Juuso Hietanen (2011-present; Torpedo, Dynamo Moscow) — 547 games, 256 points, 81 goals, 175 assists
  2. Sami Lepisto (2012-present; HC Lev, Lokomotiv, Avtomobilist, Salavat Yulaev, Jokerit) — 498 games, 239 points, 61 goals, 178 assists
  3. Ville Lajunen (2012, 2014-2020; Metallurg, Jokerit, Spartak, Kunlun, Vityaz) — 376 games, 157 points, 47 goals, 110 assists
  4. Janne Jalasvaara (2011-2017; Dynamo Moscow, HC Sochi, Kunlun) — 362 games, 96 points, 30 goals, 36 assists
  5. Tommi Kivisto (2015-present; Avtomobilist, Jokerit) — 288 games, 30 points, 6 goals, 24 assists
  6. Janne Niskala (2010-2014; Metallurg, Atlant, Dinamo Minsk) — 197 games, 90 points, 33 goals, 57 assists 
  7. Topi Jaakola 241 games

Even if his name rhymes with Dynamo Moscow, Hietanen spent four seasons in Nizhny Novgorod before moving to the Russian capital in 2015. After a first adjustment season with the Blue-and-Whites, Hietanen’s production skyrocketed, reaching its top last year, when he had 38 (13+25) points — one of the top performance among all D-men in the league. Naturally, Hietanen has a long story of success with the Finnish national team, even if different from many other KHL representatives, he never won gold at the IIHF World Championship level. Coming from a real hockey dynasty — his grandfather was a professional defenseman in Finland in the 60s — Hietanen is set to continue with Dynamo for the 2020-2021 campaign.

One of the top imports in the KHL, Sami Lepisto has lined up for several teams in the league. He was initially signed by Lokomotiv after five seasons in North America, Lepisto finished his debut season with HC Lev. However, he started racking up points with Avtomobilist — 48 (13+25) in two seasons when the Motormen weren’t the team they are today. After two years with the Urals franchise, Lepisto moved to Salavat Yulaev. With Ufa, Lepisto was a real force, increasing his production and earning a call to the 2016 World Cup. Back to Jokerit, Lepisto represented Finland at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea and posted a career-high 36 (8+28) points at his 36. The veteran blueliner is under contract with the Jokers for the upcoming campaign.

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Productive D-man Ville Lajunen follows Hietanen and Lepisto in all stats. The 32-years-old Helsinki native posted 144 (42+102) points in 343 games as a real journeyman, lining up for Metallurg, Jokerit, Spartak, Kunlun, and Vityaz last year. Lajunen is currently a free agent after his deal with Vityaz just ran out.

Janne Jalasvaara was one of the toughest D-men in the league when he lined up with Dynamo Moscow in the early 2010s. He was one of the White-and-Blues stars coached by Oleg Znarok that conquered two back-to-back Gagarin Cups in 2012 and 2013. After patrolling the blueline in Moscow, the experienced Finnish defenseman first moved to Sochi, then captained Kunlun Red Star in the Chinese franchise’s inaugural season. Currently, Jalasvaara is playing at home in Finland.

Tommi Kivisto was never renowned for his offensive production. He was always a reliable D-man with an imposing size and terrific stamina — he’s currently one of the few Finnish blueliners to have skated in 300 KHL games. The Vantaa native came to the KHL in Yekaterinburg, where he stayed two seasons, then moved to Jokerit. He’s set to continue with the Jokers in the 2020-2021 campaign.

The remaining players to feature among Finland’s best blueliners are Janne Niskala and Topi Jaakola. Niskala had several productive seasons with Metallurg, Dinamo Minsk, and Atlant, and is now an assistant coach in the Lukko Rauma system. Jaakola ideally joined the KHL extreme borders lining up for Amur Khabarovsk and Lev Prague.

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Forwards

  1. Petri Kontiola (2009-2020; Metallurg, Traktor, Lokomotiv, Jokerit) — 646 games, 395 points, 141 goals, 254 assists
  2. Teemu Hartikainen (2013-present; Salavat Yulaev) — 457 games, 324 points, 141 goals, 183 assists
  3. Niko Kapanen (2008-2016; Ak Bars, HC Lev, Jokerit) — 510 games, 298 points, 81 goals, 153 assists
  4. Jonas Enlund (2010-2020; Sibir, Lokomotiv, SKA, CSKA, Kunlun, Traktor, Neftekhimik) — 507 games, 276 points, 117 goals, 159 assists
  5. Jarkko Immonen (2009-2015; Ak Bars, Torpedo) — 396 games, 249 points, 105 goals, 144 assists
  6. Antti Pihlstrom (2011-present; Salavat Yulaev, CSKA, Jokerit) — 451 games, 153 points, 86 goals, 67 assists;
  7. Oskar Osala (2011-2018; Neftekhimik, Metallurg) — 442 games, 194 points

Petri Kontiola is for forwards what Lepisto and Hietanen are for defensemen. He leads the way in all the stats, and has a chance to further increase the gap should he sign back in the KHL next year. One of the longest-serving imports in the league’s history, Kontiola lined up for several teams, but never scored less than 20 points, if excluding the short 2016-2017 season, when he started in North America. However, his great success in the regular season was rarely paired with deep playoff runs. He was part of the Traktor squad that reached the Gagarin Cup finals in 2013, and that was his only chance to lift the trophy. Later that year, he was named the best forward at the IIHF World Championship in Sweden and Finland as he led the tournament with 16 (8+8) points. Currently, Kontiola is waiting for offers for the upcoming season.

A perennial leader in the scoring charts and one of the best players ever for Salavat Yulaev, Teemu Hartikainen scored as many goals as Kontiola but playing almost 200 fewer games. In particular, the latest two seasons were very productive for the 30-years-old forward. Last year, he was fantastic in the playoffs for Salavat Yulaev, scoring 21 (8+13) points in 17 postseason clashes. This time around, he logged a record 21 goals and added another five in six playoff games before the season was halted. Next year, Hartikainen has a chance to climb up the rankings not only among Finnish players but in the whole history of the league. For the upcoming season, Hartikainen is set to continue with Salavat Yulaev. If he scores another 25 goals, a result on his average, he will be able to surpass players like Patrick Thoresen, Nikita Gusev, or Ilya Kovalchuk in the all-time rankings.

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Hameenlinna native Niko Kapanen retired in 2017, and played his last season in the KHL in 2016, however, he was a player of great success at the dawn of the league. The Finn was one of the key players for the first two Ak Bars’ triumphs, forming a powerful Nordic connection with Tony Martensson and Jukka Hentunen — among the others. After five seasons in Kazan, Kapanen moved to HC Lev, where he helped the Czech side reaching the Gagarin Cup finals in 2014. After serving two years as Jokerit’s captain, he had a final season in his native Hameenlinna, then called it a career in 2017.

Finnish speedster Jonas Enlund lost some pace in the injury-plagued period between 2015-2019, but he rebounded last year with Neftekhimik, scoring 13 goals — lightning the lamp more than ten times for the first time since the 2014-2015 campaign. Enlund was productive in particular with Sibir, with whom he scored 82 goals in his first stint, and another nine in 2017-2018, when he also lined up for Finland at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Enlund is currently a free agent, but his strong play of last year will likely guarantee him another KHL contract.

Jarkko Immonen won a Gagarin up in his first year in the league, helping Ak Bars lifting the trophy in 2009. The forward was part of a strong Ak Bars team with a thick Nordic accent that was a perennial contender in the league’s early seasons. After four productive seasons in Tatarstan, Immonen moved to Torpedo. Playing in Nizhny Novgorod, he helped Team Finland getting home with bronze medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. After a 39-point campaign with Torpedo in 2014-2015, Immonen left the KHL and signed in Finland. He’s currently playing at home with JYP in his 38.

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Alessandro Seren Rosso Alessandro Seren Rosso
exclusive for khl.ru

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