New York Islanders 2020 sixth-round pick Matias Rajaniemi will leave Edmonton with a bronze medal after Finland defeated Russia in the World Junior Championship bronze medal game.
The New York Islanders may not have loaded the World Junior Championship in Edmonton with talent. Unlike the Los Angeles Kings who had nine representatives at the premiere U20 international tournament, the Isle had two resp. One, Finlands Matias Rajaniemi will leave Edmonton with a medal.
The Isles second representative was Sweden’s Simon Holmstrom who was eliminated by Rajaniemi’s Finland in the quarterfinals.
With a strong 4-1 win over Russia, Finland captured its third medal over the last five years. The other two were gold medals in 2019 and 2014.
He’ll Be Back
To be fair, Rajaniemi rarely played. The Islanders sixth-round pick from 2020 was either a healthy scratch or used as seventh defensemen for the Finns. He finished the tournament with 37:32 of ice-time across seven games. In the bronze medal game, he finished with 10:32 of ice-time.
He didn’t register a goal, or an assist, or a shot on the net. He was credited with a +2 rating if plus/minus is your kind of stat.
He was rarely used, but the Finns like him. A lot.
After numerous discussions with Finland’s defensive coach Ville Mantymaa, it’s clear that Finland likes his skating, his play with and without the puck, and they love his 6’4″ 205lbs frame.
Yes, he didn’t play a lot. But Matias Rajaniemi will be back for Finland. He just turned 18 in September. He wasn’t the youngest on the team but he’s still a young player that Finland will certainly welcome back when they return to Edmonton/Red Deer in 2022.
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Not bad for a sixth-round pick by the Islanders. Now Rajaniemi will head back to Finland, with a bronze medal around his neck, and suit up for his Liiga club as they try to secure a spot in the Champions Hockey League for 2021-22 (after quarantining of course).