(No Finnish Goalie has ever played for the team, so we’re outta luck there.)
Pretty straightforward, since we haven't had a ton of players from Finland so far. That said, they've all been memorable ones. To that end, the 20th Anniversary Carolina Hurricanes All-Finnish Team!
Forward: Jussi Jokinen
I could be glib here and mention that we haven't been to the playoffs since he left, but he was around for several seasons before that. That said, he still ranks as one of GM Jim Rutherhford's best pickups off the metaphorical scrap heap.
As bad as we've been the last few years in the shootout, I do sometime wish he was here. And bringing him back on a one-year deal after Florida bough him out might not've been so bad. Unless he's really slowed down he can probably still get up and down the ice quick enough for us. But I hope he's successful in Edmonton.
And most importantly, we will always have this. Screw you, Brodeur.
Forward: Tuomo Ruutu
As first impressions in a Carolina Hurricane jersey go, it's hard to top Tuomo's. He got a cab to the game from the airport just in time for the game, he got in a fight and got a point.
You knew his career probably wasn't going to end well (injuries were the persistent price his high-energy game cost him well before he got to Carolina), but that made me appreciate his game all the more. A rough and tumble playing style like his is probably one of the quickest way to a hockey fan's heart.
And if nothing else, he can say he was one of three players to score on Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics. In a better world, he oughta be able to dine out on that forever.
Forward: Sami Kapenen
Still the gold standard in franchise history, he ably rode shotgun with Ron Francis for many years here and has the career stats to prove it. It was a bummer to see him go to Philly (and it makes us all feel old that his KID is old enough to be in the NHL), but it was always neat to be able to say we had The Fastest Skater in The NHL.
(Note: there's only been one defender in Carolina Hurricanes history from Finland. You can probably guess who?)
Defenseman/Defenceman: Joni Pitkanen
I do wish his career had a better ending than crashing into the boards chasing an iced puck. No, I kinda don't want to link to that.
Realistically, I doubt he would've still been a Hurricane now even if that unfortunate accident hadn't happened. Whenever his contract was up, he would've been quite a piece to move at the '13/14 trade deadline. I realize Rutherford was still the GM and there may've been a temptation to resign him, but I'd be willing to bet some team in this alternate universe I've conjured up would pay quite a bit to have Joni for the playoff push.
As frustrating as it was to watch him sometimes, he was usually our best defenseman in his time here. Which is something of an indictment of other guys around that time, but not really untrue. I couldn't find a clip but I remember one game in the '09/10 season where he got so frustrated waiting for someone to get open for him to make that all-important First Pass from behind the net he just shot the puck up ice. Alas, no luck finding a clip of it. Such a contrast from the '08/09 playoff run (if you look back at the ".02" clip for Jussi, Joni was the primary assist), and all too perfect of one.
Player most likely to be on the 25th Anniversary Team
Goalie: Annti Niemi or Kari Lehtonen
It’d make FAR more sense to pick Sebastian Aho or some other guy down in Charlotte or in the system. I’m making a semi educated guess that one of these guys winds up here next year as an inexpensive backup goalie. They’d both probably be cheap, they’d be backups (and probably grateful to be backups at this point) and there could be an opening for a backup goalie here. Maybe. Well, probably not.
Yeah, It's going to be Aho who are we kidding? If he can push some muscle on those young bones and get some brawn to go with the brains he plays with, he could be one of the best wingers in our franchise history let alone the best from Finland.