NHL Hockey Column: Studs & Duds
SM-liiga Recap : Part II
Over the next month, the Studs and Duds feature will recap various hockey leagues spanning from North America to Europe. This week, we showcase SM-liiga enthusiast, Miika Arponen (@miikaarponen), as he breaks down the latest happenings from Finland.
Overview of the first half of SM-liiga regular season - Part II
One of the wealthiest teams in SM-liiga is Jokerit, which is currently leading the league. They have one of the most expensive teams in the league. Team - and league - leader in points is center Ilari Filppula with 15 goals and 44 points in 33 games. Filppula spent last season in Grand Rapids but didn't make it to the Red Wings team.
The most well-known lockout player in SM-liiga is Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Karlsson leads the league D-men in points with 7 goals and 27 points in 28 games and has been great offensively, as usual.
Another lockout help for Jokerit is Valtteri Filppula, little brother of Ilari, who has six goals and 15 points in 16 games so far. Filppula has been struggling with injuries and will be sidelined at least a few weeks.
The most interesting prospect in the team is last year's first round pick Teuvo Teräväinen. 18-year-old center started the season with six pointless games but has been catching up since and has now seven goals and 19 points in 24 games. Teräväinen will be one of Finland's go-to guys in the upcoming WJC.
St. Louis draft pick Teemu Eronen has been playing mostly with Karlsson and is having a good season too. Five goals and 15 points in 30 games and plus-8 are good totals for a 22-year-old D-man.
Teemu Pulkkinen was drafted in the fourth round by the Red Wings in 2010. Pulkkinen has been struggling a lot and has only seven goals and 15 points in 33 games so far.
JYP has been a powerhouse team in SM-liiga the last few years. They are currently third in the league and have signed several good lockout players too. Former Stanley Cup champion Eric Perrin is leading the team in points with 33 in 31 games.
JYP's first lockout signing was Boston forward Rich Peverley. He struggled a bit in his first games but has picked up a good pace since and has now eight goals and 19 points in 24 games.
Montreal center Lars Eller has played only eleven games with the team but has already scored five goals and 13 points. Eller has been very effective especially on the power play.
KalPa won the regular season last year but was knocked out in the quarter finals. Currently they are second in the league three points away from Jokerit. 24-year-old Sakari Salminen leads the team in points with 33 in 30 games. Salminen is a very good skater and could have the skills to break in the NHL some day.
KalPa has had two lockout players so far. Craig Smith started his stint in Kuopio with a four-point game but ended up with eight points in as many games before leaving back to the USA due to personal reasons.
Rangers forward Derek Stepan lasted 12 games, scoring two goals and as many assists, before following the example of his fellow countryman. Stepan didn't really flourish at all and is considered a big disappointment.
Artturi Lehkonen has been predicted to be a 1st round draft pick next summer. 17-year-old winger has been playing in KalPa's top line and has nine goals and 22 points in 32 games. Lehkonen will probably play big minutes for Finland in the WJC.
Kärpät is the richest team in the league and have won several titles during the last decade. Team leader in points and league leader in goals is 30 years old winger Juha-Pekka Haataja with 18 goals and 36 points in 33 games. Haataja has been one of the best forwards in SM-liiga for years but hasn't tried his wings abroad yet.
Kärpät has been very active on the lockout player market. Their first signing was 24-year-old San Jose Sharks D-man Jason Demers. Demers has been one of the best offensive D-men in the league and has five goals and 21 points in 30 games.
Jussi Jokinen played 14 games for his hometown team scoring as many points before he left back to the USA due to tax reasons. He will return to Kärpät after Christmas.
Kyle Turris was aqcuired to replace Jokinen. The Senators forward scored seven goals and 19 points in 21 games before leaving back to North America due to undisclosed reasons.
Powerforward Miikka Salomäki was drafted in the second round by the Predators in 2011. Salomäki started the season slowly, partly because he was still completing his military duties, but has cheered up lately. He has four goals and 12 points in 28 games so far. Salomäki will suit up for Finland in the upcoming World Juniors.
New York Islanders drafted defenceman Ville Pokka 31st overall in last summer's draft. Pokka has played well so far and has four goals and as many assists in 25 games. He will play in big role in the World Juniors.
Part III ahead.
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