Team Finland has announced the group of players looking to win a World Junior medal for the first time in six years.
On Monday, the Finns — who haven’t finished in the top three since winning bronze in 2006 — released their camp roster for the 2013 tournament, which will be played in Ufa, Russia on Dec. 26.
The invitee likely to get the most buzz is Aleksander Barkov, considered by many to be the No. 1 European prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Barkov, 17, currently plays in the Finnish league with Tappara and leads the team in scoring with 28 points in 28 games.
“He’s big, strong and a hard worker in all areas of the ice,” Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. “He’s a sniper who can also set up scoring chances for teammates. He’s a two-way center with a good understanding of his defensive duties, stickhandles well in tight situations, and always seems to come out as a winner.
“He’ll probably go among the top three at the draft.”
Barkov is expected to star for Finland like he did at the U-20 Four Nations Tournament in November. He posted three assists in three games, winning 59 percent of his faceoffs and being on the ice for eight of his team’s nine goals as Finland captured silver.
That said, Barkov will not be alone in trying to snap Finland’s medal drought — he’ll be aided by a trio of recent first-round picks:
— Joel Armia, taken 16th overall by Buffalo in 2011
— Teuvo Teravainen, taken 18th overall by Chicago in 2012
— Olli Maatta, taken 22nd overall by Pittsburgh in 2012
For the full Team Finland roster, click here.