Four Islanders prospects in running for Finland's 2022 WJC squad

2006 Olympic Hockey Portraits
2006 Olympic Hockey Portraits / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

You may have forgotten, but the World Junior Championship is taking place this summer. From August 9 to 20, the best U20 players will meet in Edmonton. And there's a chance that four New York Islanders prospects make the Finnish roster.

On Wednesday, the Finnish U20 National Team named its two rosters for their pre-World Juniors training camp. The first roster is the main squad while roster two is the "challenger" team. Three Islanders prospects made the first team while a fourth was named to the challenger squad.

New York Islanders: 4 prospects in running for Finland's 2022 WJC squad

Main Team Prospects
Aatu Rätu (Bridgeport) | 2021 2nd
Eetu Liukas (HPK) | 2021 5th
Matias Rajaniemi (Pelicans) | 2020 6th

Challenger Team Prospect
Aleksi Malinen (JYP) | 2021 6th

Räty was a lock to make the team after the year he had with Jukurit. He was the only Islanders prospect that was named to the squad that went to Edmonton back in December. But a COVID diagnosis prior to Finland leaving for Canada meant he couldn't join his teammates.

Liukas and Rajaniemi were left off the team in December because, as head coach Antti Pennanen told me, they couldn't find a spot for both. That might be the case again this August with Finland naming 10 defensemen and 15 forwards to the main roster. The final roster is typically 8D and 14F. So Liukas and Raja might not make the final cut.

The possibility that Malinen makes the squad is much slimmer. He'll have to have a monster camp to not only prove he's worthy enough to make the main squad and that he's better than the names on that main roster. It's going to be a steep uphill battle for him.

Summer WJC?

I know the World Juniors is typically in the winter. But with the cancellation of December's tournament (thanks to a bungled COVID protocol by the IIHF), the IIHF moved it to August. Same teams, same eligibility, just pushed back about nine months.