Photo: KalPa Kuopio forward and Montreal Canadiens prospect Artturi Lehkonen played on Finland’s top line at the 2014 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Like Sweden's SHL and the Czech and Slovak Extraligas, Finland's Liiga has been hit hard by the defection of top young players to the KHL for bigger contracts.
Photo: HPK Hameenlinna goaltender and Nashville Predators prospect Juuse Saros turned in a stellar performance at the 2014 World Junior Championship, helping to lead Finland to their first gold medal at the U20 WJC since 1998 (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
No country has had as much success developing goaltenders in recent years as Finland.
But with 14 Finland-trained goalies playing in North America and another nine playing in Europe in either the KHL or in Sweden's SHL, the number of drafted prospects playing in Finland's Liiga has dwindled to just five.
Photo: Defenseman Seth Jones, on pace to graduate from prospect status before the end of the season, has averaged 20:50 in ice time for the Predators as a rookie (courtesy of Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators system contains some top-end offensive talent while the defensive skill is a bit lacking after Seth Jones.
Photo: Guelph winger Jason Dickinson has been a standout at both ends of the ice for the Storm. The Dallas Stars draft pick registered nine assists in his last five games (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Welcome to the January 2014 edition of On the Rush, a monthly column featuring prospects at various levels of competition who are either exceeding expectations or falling a little behind.
Photo: Team Finland goaltender Juuse Saros has been leading the way for his country at the 2014 World Junior Championship, with his 1.53 goals-against average and .942 save percentage both being tops among goaltenders at this tournament (courtesy of ANDREAS HILLERGREN / TT/AFP/Getty Images)
For the first time since 2001, Finland will be playing for the gold medal at the World Junior Championship. The Finns landed in that game by knocking off Canada, 5-1, in a semi-final game. Now, they must defeat Sweden in that country if they want to take home gold.