Mar 5, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo (6) looks to move up ice after retrieving puck during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Sami Salo and Valtteri Filppula on the Road to Sochi for Team Finland

On Monday, Finland released their roster for their Olympic Evaluation Camp. Head Coach Erkka Westerlund extended invitations to 54 players, 26 of whom play in the National Hockey League. Of the names on that list, two of them are of special interest to those of us here in the Bolts Nation; Sami Salo and Valtteri Filppula.

Last season, Salo scored 2 goals and 15 assists for a total of 17 points. He maintained a solid plus-8 rating, the second highest on the team; only surpassed by Benoit Pouliot, who was just recently signed by the New York Rangers.

Filppula played 41 games with the Detroit Red Wings last season, missing 7 due to a shoulder injury.

He seemed to hit a bit of a slump last season, only scoring 9 goals and 8 assists for 17 points. Some say that his offensive struggles were attributed to his injury. Looking back at his 2011-12 numbers, that assumption doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. He scored 23 and 43 assists for a total of 66 points.

Both Salo and Filppula represented Finland in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver where they earned the Bronze Medal.

16 other players from the 2010 Olympic squad have been invited to Orientation camp this year.

Salo will be joined by returning defensemen Joni Pitkanen from the Carolina Hurricanes and Kimmo Timonen from the Philadelphia Flyers.

Filppula will be joined by 7 forwards from the 2010 team; Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu, Olli Jokinen from the Winnipeg Jets, Saku Koivu from the Anaheim Ducks, Tuomo Ruutu from the Carolina Hurricanes, and Teemu Selanne from the Anaheim Ducks, and free agents Niklas Hagman and Niko Kapenen.

The only member returning in goal is Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild.

A new face on this list is former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Sean Bergenheim who now plays for the in-state rival Florida Panthers.

There is a lot of top quality talent vying their spot at each position, especially in net.

Backstrom, along with Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks and Tuukka Rask from the Boston Bruins all competed in last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

You can view the complete roster for Team Finland’s Evaluation Camp here.

It will be interesting to see who makes the cut and lands their name on the final roster of players heading to Sochi.

Since allowing the NHL Players to participate in Olympic competition, Finland has earned a medal in 3 of the 4 tournaments; 2 Bronze and 1 Silver. I am sure that Finland will be looking to build a strong core and chase the Gold Medal that has eluded them so far.

Do you think Sami Salo and Valtteri Filppula will make the final roster for Team Finland?

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Tags: 2014 Winter Olympic Games Sami Salo Sochi Tampa Bay Lightning Team Finland Valtteri Filppula

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