The All Time Finnish New York Rangers Team
Finland is often ranked number one for being the happiest country in the world, which explains why the smattering of Finns that have donned the Broadway Blue throughout the decades seem to have perpetual smiles on their collective faces. While it is true that only a handful of players from this Scandinavian country have had a significant impact for the New York Rangers, the players we will detail on our All-Finland team certainly have carved out their own niches in franchise history
Starting in goal number 31 Antti Raanta
Talk about a constant state of happiness, Raanta was not seen by my eyes sans a smile. His tenure as Henrik Lundqvist’s understudy may have been a brief one, but Raanta earned well-deserved accolades for his impeccable work manning the crease any time “The King” needed a respite. Raanta complied an impressive 27-14-4 record with five shutouts in his 53 career games in his two seasons as a Ranger goalie.
On defense, number 29 Reijo Ruotsalainen
If we were going to do an “All-Nickname Team” for the Rangers, “Plexi Rexi” would assuredly make that squad as well. Current Ranger President and former teammate John Davidson says the native of Oulu, Finland earned that whimsical moniker for the multitude of times his slap shot caromed off the Plexiglass behind the opposing goalie. On a serious note, Ruotsalainen was an outstanding offensive defenseman during his five year stint on Broadway accumulating 316 points in 389 games including a 73 point effort in the 1984-85 season.
His defense partner number 5, Jari Grondstrand
A member of the Blueshirts for just one season, the talented native of Tampere, Finland was a key defender of the Ranger team that missed the 1988 playoffs by the most narrowest of margins. on the season’s final day. John MacLean, anyone?
On left wing number 10 Esa Tikkanen
One of the more beloved Finns and members of the 1994 Stanley Cup championship squad, the abrasive, antagonistic, but inherently likable Tikkanen is sure to bring a thunderous ovation whenever #10 returns to the World’s Most Famous Arena. “Tikk”, a Blueshirt on three separate occasions, including the Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997, was the epitome of clutch. The higher levels of pressure, the rising rate of intensity, the better Tikkanen performed. The native of Finland’s capital, Helsinki, gets the red carpet treatment from the Garden Faithful whenever he graces us with his presence
At center number 9 Pentti Lund
A Blueshirt for three seasons during the Original Six era, the native of Karijoki, Finland and 1949 Rookie of the Year recipient was a key member of the 1950 Ranger squad that darn near shocked the hockey world by taking the mighty Detroit Red Wings to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
On right wing number 24 Kaapo Kakko
The second overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the native of Turku, Finland showed flashes of brilliance during his abbreviated rookie campaign. While some unfairly expected Kakko to resemble Teemu Selanne as an 18-year old. #24’s future is as unlimited a ray of sunshine. Kakko’s rare combination of size, skill and offensive prowess has the Garden Faithful salivating over what could be once the talented Finn matures, fills out and realizes his vast potential.
Honorable mention: Mikko Leinonen, Jari Kurri, Lauri Korpikoski, Jussi Markkanen, Ville Nieminen.