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Showing posts with the label topi niemela

The Underrated Drafting by the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been serious Stanley Cup contenders for the last few years. Being contenders comes with the price of not having high-end draft picks. However, the Leafs have done a good job of drafting prospects in the latter rounds of the draft. Roni Hirvonen:   Hirvonen is a player that was selected 59th overall by the Maple Leafs during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Hirvonen is regarded as a high-end prospect that has excelled at every junior level he has played at.   Most recently, the forward represented Team Finland at the 2022 IIHF WJC, where he was named captain. The Leafs prospect played on the Finnish top line and recorded seven points in seven games. Hirvonen is currently playing for HIFK Helsinki of the Finnish Liiga, although he is under contract with the Maple Leafs. Last season with the Finnish squad, Hirvonen put up a solid 26 points in 46 games.   The 59th overall pick is regarded as a high-end playmaker. He finds the seams to set up his teammates. He i

Toronto's Top Defensive Prospect: Topi Niemela

Topi Niemela. What comes to mind when you hear his name? Niemela, is a star player playing for Karpat of the SM-Liiga in Finland. The Maple Leafs acquired Niemela during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he was selected 64th overall. Niemela is a two-way defenceman that has played in the top leagues throughout the Finnish junior and pro system. Niemela's name really broke out at the 2020-21 IIHF World Junior Classic. The Finnish defender was second on his team in points with eight and was a named Defenceman of the Tournament. He and Team Finland ended up taking home a bronze medal. This past season, Niemela, spent the entire season with Karpat playing at the professional level. Niemela was the top d-man on his team, as just a 20-year-old. Remember the Liiga is a top professional league, he is playing against competition much older and mature then his age.  Niemela played in 48 games, scoring ten goals and assisting 22 plays. He was also invited back to the WJC and wore the "A", f

Previewing the 2022 IIHF WJC Gold Medal Game - Finland vs Canada

It all comes down to this, the most prolific game of a hockey player's junior career. Who will take home the gold medal?   Team Finland comes into the game looking for a bounceback effort. They were defeated by Canada during the preliminary round, 6-3. Team Canada cruised through the preliminary round and will have their biggest test of the tournament today. Keys to Success: For Finland, they need to establish an early lead. Finland's top line of Aatu Raty, Joakim Kemell, and Roni Hirvonen have been carrying the load offensively. With an early lead, Finland's defensive strengths and shut a game down, like they did against Team Sweden yesterday. Finland defeated Sweden, 1-0, and limited the Swedes to just 23 shots.   Canada will need to break down Finland's defensive core once again, like they did in the preliminary round. Canada's offensive core is made up of highly skilled players that pounce on mistakes. Finland's game revolves around possession. If Canada

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. Aleksi Heimosalmi 0+1 Koko kisojen saldo: 4 ottelua 0+4 #Ässät #Liiga https://t.co/xyJ42E46ix — Porin Ässät (@PorinAssat) August 16, 2022   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 t