Montreal Canadiens: Could Habs “Finnish Line” All Make Olympic Team in 2022?

EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 21: Artturi Lehkonen #62 and Joel Armia #40 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 21: Artturi Lehkonen #62 and Joel Armia #40 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens could see a number of their players at the next Olympics. Could the Habs “Finnish Line” play together?

The Montreal Canadiens have been represented at the Winter Olympics over the years. In the five tournaments that allowed Olympic participation, nearly two dozen Habs players suited up for their county in the hopes of earning a gold medal.

A few of them have been victorious in that time, with Martin Rucinsky part of the unlikely gold medal winning team from Czech Republic in 1998 and Carey Price turning aside nearly everything fired his way en route to gold in 2014.

We have seen some terrific performances from the likes of Tomas Plekanec and Saku Koivu over the years as well. Those two players always seemed to be at their best when playing for their country, often leading to Habs fans wondering what they could do in an 82 game season if Teemu Selanne or Jaromir Jagr were their wingers for more than a two week stretch.

We did not get to see NHL players take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics. CBA negotiations hit a wall around that time and players were not eligible to leave their NHL teams to go play for their country. While the NHL and NHLPA try to hammer out an agreement on returning to play to conclude the 2019-20 season, they are also trying to extend the current CBA.

If rumours that are circling are true, part of that new CBA will be the return of NHL players to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026. Of course, this got me thinking about which Canadiens players will be at the Olympics, and I realized for the first time ever, we could have an entire Habs line representing their country in 2022.

Now, a few things would have to fall in line for this to occur, but the Habs “Finnish Line” of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Arthur Lehkonen and Joel Armia all have a chance of cracking Finland’s roster.

Of course, we would have to see contract extensions handed out to all three of them before then, but with Kotkaniemi and Lehkonen being RFA’s at the end of the 2020-21 season, they will likely still be in town. Armia is going to be a UFA at the same time, so getting him under contract may be a bit trickier. We will have to wait and see on that one, but assuming the trifecta are still in Montreal, the Habs could send an entire line to Beijing to play for Finland.

Taking a look at Finland’s eligible players, and it is going to be a deep team, so it won’t be easy for any of the Habs forwards to earn a roster spot. Their top six at the 2022 Games could be Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Mikko Rantanen, Aleksander Barkov, Patrik Laine and Kaapo Kakko. They could also throw together an impressive third line with Mikael Granlund, Roope Hintz and Kasperi Kapanen.

After that, a fourth line of three guys who sometimes play together with their NHL team would bring immediate chemistry and solid two-way play. You know Lehkonen and Armia can kill penalties and play a smart, safe defensive role. Kotkaniemi still has a lot to prove in the next season and a half, but chances are he will be good enough to beat out older veterans like Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula. But will Kotkaniemi be a better option than Erik Haula? Would Armia and Lehkonen be better choices than Joonas Donskoi and Leo Komarov?

It’s not a guarantee, but I’d be leaning towards the Habs wingers over Komarov and Donskoi at this point. It’s Kotkaniemi who has to improve the most before he can take a spot away from Haula or another promising youngster like Anton Lundell.

With a defence consisting of Miro Heiskanen, Rasmus Ristolainen, Esa Lindell, Sami Vatanen, Olli Maatta, Markus Nutivaara and Henri Jokiharju or young guns like Sami Niku, Ville Heinola and Lassi Thomson and their choice of Tuukka Rask, Joonas Korpisalo or Just Faros in goal, this is going to be an incredible team.

Next. Which Habs Will We See In 2022 Olympics?. dark

How many Habs will be on this team will be decided based on contract extensions and their performance over the next 18 months. However, if Lehkonen and Armia continue to fine-tune their two-way game and Kotkaniemi can show his true potential, we could see the Finnish Line suiting up for Finland in February 2022 and they would have a real chance of winning gold.