WJC: Tuukka Rask Wants to Cross the Pond (posted 01.15.07)
by Jante Abrahamsson
After being the starter back home in SM-liiga with Ilves for the second season in a row and playing his third World Junior Championship, Finnish netminder Tuukka Rask believes that he is ready for making the jump to North America.
The 19-year old Rask did perhaps not display the same amazing type of goaltending antics this time around in the World Juniors as he did last year, when he basically carried the Finnish team on his back all the way to a bronze medal. Nevertheless, he was a solid last outpost for the Finnish team, who finished second behind Russia in their group in the tournaments preliminary round.
If Tuukka Rask decides to move over the pond for next season, it will no longer be to the organization that drafted him back in 2005, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead his rights are now owned by the Boston Bruins, due to the trade that landed goaltender Andrew Raycroft in Toronto.
"Those things happen", Rask shrugged when asked about his feelings of being traded before even playing a single NHL game.
"I'm aware about how things work over there, so I wasn't too disappointed or anything".
Playing in hockey's heartland or in New England doesn't change Rask's objective for next season, which is getting an NHL job.
"I'm definitely going to take chance if I get a contract for next season. I mean, why not?"
"With training camps and such, who knows what might happen? So I'm going to take my chances", Rask says.
Osala the Finnish wildcard
The Washington Capitals might have picked up a gem in last year's draft, when selecting the powerful Finnish winger Oskar Osala in the 4th round. Osala, currently plays with the Mississauga Ice Dog's of the OHL, was constantly put in the Finnish top line, alongside prolific scorers Perttu Lindgren and Mikko Lehtonen during the World Juniors. As a result, Osala delivered the best offensive numbers ever of his young career.
"You always like to have responsibility and a big role in whatever team you're playing for", Osala said.
"I've played together with Mikko and Perttu in the national team since we were 15 year old, although not in the same line before. So it felt good playing with those two".
Just a quick look at Osala on the ice tells you that he is well suited for the physically tighter North American game, and he agrees that the particular style suits him.
"I'm a physical player who likes to play aggressive and I enjoy when it gets a little physical out there", he says when asked to describe his own style.
"In the World Juniors, I think you actually are getting some more time with the puck compared to the OHL, which makes a bit easier to set up passes and stuff", he concludes.
Osala who with his performance in Mora and Leksand certainly proved that he deserved to be mentioned in the same paragraph as other, more high profile, Washington Capitals picks in the tournament such as Nicklas Backstrom, Semen Varlamov and Igor Makarov.