The camp rosters have been announced for both Finland and Sweden for the upcoming World Junior Championship. The New York Rangers have a few players we're going to keep an eye on, one of which being last year's 89th overall pick Aleksi Saarela of Finland.
Aleksi Saarela is part of Finland camp for two pre-WJC games. Final roster will be chosen after that. Robin Kovács NOT named by Sweden. #NYR— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) December 7, 2015
In a surprising twist, however, Robin Kovacs (the Rangers 62nd overall pick last year) was not invited for Sweden despite posting 17 points in 22 Allsvenskan (think of it as the SHL's AHL) including an assist in four SHL games and six points in as many international games so far this year.
Saarela, however, has had a monster start to the year in Liiga (Finland's professional hockey league). After having a solid four nations tournament Saarela has notched 15 points in 26 games -- included eight goals and 10 points in his last 10 games. For reference, Saarela had six goals and six assists for 12 points in 51 Liiga games last year. You don't need me to tell you he's had some fantastic growth this year and is really finding his game.
Hopefully we see more of that in the World Juniors, where Saarela could conceivably find his way on Finland's top line. It's just too bad we won't be able to see Kovacs, too.