Roman Solovyov Roman Solovyov
Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru
KHL.ru continues its rundown of this season’s teams. Today it’s the turn of Jokerit, where an established head coach is working with a younger roster.

Last season

Like all the non-Russian teams in the championship, last season was tough for Jokerit. The team repeatedly found itself in quarantine and, after the New Year the Finns had to catch up with a busy schedule of rearranged games. At the same time, the Hartwall Arena was closed to spectators. By the end of the season there was little strength left to fight in the playoffs and Jokerit was swept by Lokomotiv, with all four games played in Yaroslavl.

Roster

Arrivals

Goalies: Samuli Tervo (KeuPa, FIN-2), Janne Juvonen (Leksands, SWE).

Defensemen: Otto Leskinen (Montreal, NHL), Petteri Lindbohm (Bil, SUI), Niko Mikkola (Visby, SWE-2), Philip Holm (Metallurg).

Forwards: Hannes Bjorninen (Pelicans, FIN), Kristjan Kombe (HPK, FIN), Kalle Kossila (Toronto, AHL), Tommi Laakso (Assat, FIN), Teemu Turunen (Davos, SUI)

Retained

Goalie: Anders Lindback

Defenseman: Alex Grant, Tommi Kivisto, David Sklenicka, Niklas Friman.

Forwards: Marko Anttila, Nicklas Jensen, Henri Ikonen, Jesse Joensuu, John Norman, Brian O’Neill, Iiro Parakinen, Veli-Matti Savinainen, Henrik Haapala, Aleksi Halme, Markus Hannikainen, Jordan Schroder, Julius Juntilla.

Departures

Goalies: Janis Kalnins (Vaxjo, SWE), Samuel Jukuri (Lukko, FIN)

Defensemen: Jakub Krejcik, Viktor Loov (Bil, SUI), Sami Lepisto, Jonathan Pudas (Skelleftea, SWE)

Forwards: Saku Maenalainen (Karpat, FIN), Antti Pihlstrom, Peter Regin (Ambri-Piotta, SUI)

The pre-season recruitment campaign was aiming to both strengthen the team and make it younger. That’s why experienced players, such as Sami Lepisto, Antti Pihlstrom and Peter Regin moved on. For a long time it seemed that Veli-Matti Savinainen might join them, but he signed up again during the pre-season camp. There are big hopes for Lindbohm, Turunen and Bjorninen, all of whom helped Finland to the final of the 2021 IIHF World Championship.

Coaching

Lauri Marjamaki is going into his fourth season as head coach. Only Bob Hartley and David Nemirovsky can match that longevity among current KHL coaches. This the last season of Marjamaki’s current contract and he needs a good campaign to secure an extension. In his previous three seasons the team’s results have been uneven: while making the second round in 2020 was a success, last year’s loss to Lokomotiv was a big disappointment.

Goalies

This season’s goaltending duo will be Sweden’s Anders Lindback and Finn Janne Juvonen, who joins after playing in Sweden. Coming into the season it seems clear that Lindback will start as first choice, but his younger colleague is capable of stepping into a leadership role at any moment. We saw something similar last season, when there was little to choose between the Swede and Janis Kalnins before Lindback established himself as first choice for the playoffs. The battle for the #1 role will be an interesting one to watch.

Defense

Over the summer, the club managed to keep hold of its D-core in the form of Grant, Kivisto, Sklenicka and Friman. Among the departed players, neither Lepisto, Krejcik, Pudas nor Loov were key to the system in the way that, for example, Mikko Lehtonen has been. That enabled Jokerit to refresh the defensive line, bringing in Otto Leskinen, Petteri Lindbohm and Philip Holm. Lindbohm is back with Jokerit seven years after leaving for North America and later Switzerland. His status in the club is clear — he was immediately given the ‘A’ for the coming season.

Offense

Summer saw the departure of leading center Peter Regin and two players from the bottom six, Saku Maenalanen and Antti Pihlstrom. They are replaced by Bjorninen, Kossila and Turunen, each of whom could emerge as leaders on this team. But they have to demonstrate their worth to the team, with captain Marko Anttila and leading scorer Brian O’Neill remaining very much the ‘faces’ of Jokerit in the KHL era. The newcomers’ ability to form a competitive team will be crucial to the Finns’ success this season.

Youngsters

In preparing for the new season, the coaching staff steadily began looking at younger players. At the Bauer Hockey Games we saw three players under 23. Forward Aleksi Halme has 32 KHL games in two seasons, but last term his game time dropped by a third. Others involved in pre-season include Estonian forward Kristjan Kombe and defenseman Jaako Manninen, who was captain of Jokerit’s juniors last season.

What to expect

Jokerit always looks like a team capable of making at least the second round of the playoffs. Success this season will depend on several factors: can the team’s leaders maintain their previous high level, how quickly will the newcomers adapt? Only Philip Holm has prior KHL experience. The club management retained the backbone of the team and made some astute-looking additions. With two weeks until the start of the season, the Finns once again look set to compete for a place in the top four in the West.

Roman Solovyov Roman Solovyov
Andy Potts Andy Potts
exclusive for khl.ru

Related clubs

Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Share
Прямая ссылка на материал
Распечатать