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Aleksi Heimosalmi Has Been a Force for Team Finland

Aleksi Heimosalmi may not be the name that comes to mind when you think about top defencemen on Team Finland's roster. Your mind tends to wander to Topi Niemela, Kasper Puutio or even Eemil Viro. But Heimosalmi's play so far at the World Junior Classic proves different.

Heimosalmi is tied for first in points by a Finnish d-man with Kasper Puutio. He currently has six assists, or six points in five games, also maintaining a rating of positive four.

 
Heimosalmi started the 2022 IIHF World Juniors as the seventh defenceman in the Finland lineup. The Fin has since been moved up to the second pair, alongside Detroit Red Wings' pick Eemil Viro, and also commands the second unit power play
 
We can see a contrast in Heimosalmi's ice time throughout the tournament. He started the preliminary round averaging 15 minutes per game and ended the preliminary round against Team Canada playing 20+ minutes.

What does Heimosalmi bring to Finland's game? The Pori native is an elite puck handler. Team Finland plays a very controlled and possession-based game. Heimosalmi controls the puck with great simplicity; he is smooth throughout the whole ice. 

In the defensive zone, he maintains a good gap and great stick positions. In the neutral zone, he regroups the puck with ease and advances the puck up the ice through skating or passing. He utilizes his elite edgework by walking the blueline and pinching up to create offense. He is the complete puck-moving d-man.

On and off the puck, Aleksi Heimosalmi has gained the trust of his coaches and has shown fans his true game. Heimosalmi is currently 19, and is eligible to return to Team Finland at the 2023 WJC.

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