Kemell, Lambert headline Finland’s entry at 2022 World Juniors
The Finnish U20 World Junior Championship (WJC) team will arrive in Edmonton this year with a less experienced team than the one that won a Bronze at last year’s tournament.
The pair are considered top prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft, and will help pace a Finnish team with less experience than the one that won bronze at last year’s tournament.
Kemell has been climbing the rankings for the 2022 draft, pushing himself into the No. 6 position in FCHockey’s Winter ranking. He also received an A rating from the NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch list.
His 0.95 point-per-game pace is currently the best for any draft year eligible player in Liiga history, ahead of players such as Mikael Granlund (0.93) and Aleksander Barkov (0.91).
“Kemell is a very exciting player to watch, who can create scoring opportunities when there seemingly are none,” Finnish-based FCHockey scout Rasmus Tornqvist said. “He can beat goalies from most spots in the offensive zone, and might just be the X-factor that Finland needs to make a run in the tournament.”
Brad Lambert, Kemell’s teammate with JYP, was at one point considered to be the second best prospect of the 2022 NHL Draft class behind Canadian forward Shane Wright.
It looked like Lambert was going to maintain that status at last year’s World Juniors. He had an impressive showing where he displayed his impressive skating speed, hard work ethic and scoring touch. He posted four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games, as a 17-year-old.
“Lambert comes into his second WJC with a lot to prove,” Tornqvist said. “He wasn’t a clear-cut choice to make the team, but his elite skating and potentially difference making offensive skills make him very hard to pass on. Will probably be given a chance to succeed early in the tournament, but if he finds himself struggling and forcing plays, like he has at times this season, he might find himself in a smaller role.”
Another player that should have an impact for Finland is defenseman Topi Niemela, who himself is having a great season playing for Karpat in the Liiga. Niemela, selected in the second round (No. 64) of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, has 22 points (five goals, twelve assists) this season in 28 games in Liiga so far this season.
Niemela was outstanding at last year’s WJC tournament and was second on the team in scoring, where he collected eight points (two goals, six assists) in seven games. He was instrumental in Finland bringing home the bronze and was awarded the tournament’s Top Defenseman nod.
“His effortless skating, top-end puck handling and willingness to join the rush make him the single most important player for Team Finland,” Tornqvist said. “He may very well be the top-scoring defenseman in this year’s tournament.”
Here’s a rundown on Finland’s roster for the World Juniors:
|G||Joel Blomqvist||6’2″||183||Karpat||Liiga||Pittsburgh Penguins||2020||2||52|
|G||Leevi Merilainen||6’3″||174||Kingston||OHL||Ottawa Senators||2020||3||71|
|D||Aleksi Heimosalmi||5’11”||170||Assat||Liiga||Carolina Hurricanes||2021||2||44|
|D||Topi Niemela||5’11”||165||Karpat||Liiga||Toronto Maple Leafs||2020||3||64|
|D||Ville Ottavainen||6’4″||201||JYP||Liiga||Seattle Kraken||2021||4||99|
|D||Kasper Puutio||5’11”||181||Kalpa||Liiga||Florida Panthers||2020||5||153|
|D||Eemil Viro||6’0″||165||TPS||Liiga||Detroit Red Wings||2020||3||70|
|F||Samuel Helenius||6’6″||201||JYP||Liiga||Los Angeles Kings||2021||2||59|
|F||Roni Hirvonen||5’9″||172||HIFK||Liiga||Toronto Maple Leafs||2020||2||59|
|F||Roby Jarventie||6’3″||205||Belleville||AHL||Ottawa Senators||2020||2||33|
|F||Oliver Kapanen||6’0″||165||Kalpa||Liiga||Montreal Canadiens||2021||2||64|
|F||Ville Koivunen||6’0″||172||Karpat||Liiga||Carolina Hurricanes||2021||2||51|
|F||Kasper Simontaival||5’9″||176||Kalpa||Liiga||Los Angeles Kings||2020||3||66|
|F||Kalle Vaisanen||6’4″||181||TPS||Liiga||New York Rangers||2021||4||106|