Urheilu’s NHL reporter Tommi Seppälä and a hockey expert Ismo Lehkonen selected the Lions for the winter 2025 four-country tournament, in which NHL players also participate. The NHL announced over the weekend that it will also participate in the 2026 and 2030 Winter Olympics. Every two years between the Olympics, the World Cup seasoned with NHL players is to be played.
In goalkeeper trios, both act as a carrying force in their own right Juuse Saros. The starting point is that Saros plays even all the matches in the tournament in the best case.
Blacksmith: – I assume that Saros will play all important matches. If something happens, Husso has been the orchestra’s second best goalkeeper overall for the past couple of seasons. If Luukkonen is playing, a lot of things must have already happened.
Lehkonen: – Lankin excels in Saro’s place if needed, there are no two words about it. Through Nashville, they have good chemistry with Saros. Luukkonen is a young developing goalkeeper who has risen rapidly. He fits in well with the group.
Lehkonen: – Building defender pairs was easy. Mikkola will pair up with Heiskanen as a libero defender, who tells Miro to let it go, I’ll take care of the defense. However, Heiskanen must be allowed to play through his strengths. Mikkola is a good sandpaper man next to that.
Blacksmith: – I set out to build pairs of defenders so that each pair would have one player with a little more puck and one so-called basic bone. For the top pair, I chose Lindell as Heiskanen because of the history. The two have played in Dallas for a long time together and occasionally as a couple. Safe and high-quality cooperative play starts at the push of a button.
Lehkonen also relied on common experiences in his second and third pairs.
Lehkonen: – Not two words. Lindell and Hakanpää play together in Dallas, and in this team too, they would play most of the understrength minutes. Määtta and Ristolainen are in the same age group and know each other well. That pair has a couple of rings and these guys are not crazy to play against anyone.
Both of them were on the same lines with respect to force majeure responsibilities.
Blacksmith: – In Finland, there are quite a few defenders who regularly operate with superiority, so Heiskanen will operate for at least one and a half minutes for each superiority.
Lehkonen: – If we think about the defenders, then in line operation and offensive play in the attack zone we give equalization to others. So yes, Heiskanen can play like that Cale Makar In Colorado, i.e. plays for the majority of superiority.
The biggest differences can be found in the attacking compositions. An interesting note right at the top is related to the omitted players. Neither can be found in the composition Patrik Laineta and not Kasperi from Kapa.
Laine recently applied for the NHL’s treatment program.
Lehkonen: – First you have to put your package in order. Everyone understands that for the sake of talent the boys could be involved, but now there has been a bit of all kinds of things on the back burner.
Blacksmith: – Completely agree. Suomi would need Laineta, who is capable of striking, in the possession game, because he is the only threat for that from the right. However, the fact is that Laine will not be able to fit into the team on this date. The current spring flies by and what is the hitting ability when the man is in the rink again. Let’s hope it’s good.
Lehkonen also left Mikael Granlund from his team.
Lehkonen: – The competition is fierce and the youth has joined. He has played quite well, but in a losing team. And last spring’s trip to Pittsburgh didn’t go well either.
It is clear that due to the abundance of centers, some of the central attackers have to be played on the wing. Seppälä built three hard centers, each with its own chain. Lehkonen moved Ahon Hintz to the wing and Erik Haula to the center of the trio.
Blacksmith: – I built the first couple of chains around the double harness. I wanted Rantanen and Lehkonen and Aho and Teräväinen in the same chain. The two have many experiences in common. These two will produce with Barkov and Granlund on both ends of the court. Since the three top centers each have their own chain, the playing is even, so that everyone has enough minutes. Maccelli and Hintz in the same chain would be super interesting to see.
Lehkonen: – I started with the idea that the top players from Canada, the USA and Sweden must be stopped, and with that in mind I made the first two chains. Around Rantanen, I wanted players like Nathan MacKinnon, who are fast and skilled. It has a double center and the boys can agree on how to come into their own or take starts. That chain can burn anyone. In the second chain, Barkov and Lehkonen are elite as shadow men and really enjoy it. Teräväinen fits that, because he has a lot of common experiences with Lehkonen.
Ismo Lehkonen is Artturi Lehkonen’s father.
In the chain of four, both have youth and reliability.
Lehkonen: – Lundell played at a high level in the Stanley Cup finals this summer. Luostarinen is a coach by Paul Maurice a credit player whose absence was really felt last year. I wouldn’t dare leave him out. Kotkaniemi has already played in the finals a couple of years ago and has always been good in tough places. Kakko is an extra striker, a type that you can put anywhere and he will take care of the job.
Blacksmith: – I wanted to build a reliable chain around Haula. Haula is an excellent center of the brake chain, who scrapes starts in the NHL with more than 57 percent efficiency. Lundell and Luostarinen know each other and have played together a lot in Florida. You can trust this chain in any situation. Kotkaniemi is a versatile 13th striker.
You can assemble your own team below. Assembly requires a ID.