December 10, 2021

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. 

Joakim Kemell and Brad Lambert will headline Finland’s entry at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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 Juha Jatkola 6’1″ 176 Kalpa Liiga 2022
G Leevi Merilainen 6’3″ 174 Kingston OHL Ottawa Senators 2020 3 71
D Karri Aho 6’1″ 185 Ilves Liiga 2022
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 Petteri Nurmi 6’0″ 168 HPK Liiga 2022
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 Ruben Rafkin 6’0″ 190 TPS Liiga 2022
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 Roni Karvinen 6’0″ 198 SaiPa Liiga 2022
F Joakim Kemell 5’11” 176 JYP Liiga 2022
F Ville Koivunen 6’0″ 172 Karpat Liiga Carolina Hurricanes 2021 2 51
F Brad Lambert 6’0″ 179 JYP Liiga 2022
F Joel Maatta 6’2″ 201 Vermont NCAA 2022
F Juuso Maenpaa 5’7″ 148 Kalpa Liiga 2022
F Olli Nikupeteri 5’9″ 179 Lulea SHL 2022
F Sami Paivarinta 5’9″ 159 Lukko Liiga 2022
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

UPDATE: Aatu Raty and Rami Maatta were originally named to the roster, but will be unable to compete because of COVID quarantine.

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