The 2012-13 season in Finland's SM-Liiga was interesting, to say the least.
With an influx of NHL players early in the season due to the NHL lockout, the level of play was higher than in recent years. When those players returned to their NHL clubs, the remainder of the season saw several teams which had not had much success recently in the thick of things.
At the 2012 World Junior Championship, much of the focus was on high profile forwards Mikael Granlund and Teemu Pulkkinen – veterans of previous tournaments who were making one last attempt to win a gold medal. While Finland came up short of that goal, losing to eventual champion Sweden in a shootout in the semifinals, the team's fourth place finish would have to be considered a success.
The 2011-12 SM-Liiga season was one of opportunity for several young players – as the continued exodus of top flight veterans from the Finnish national league to the KHL or North America allowed some of the top Finnish juniors to make an impact with their respective clubs.
After completely rebuilding the NHL club through a series of trades and a variety of free agent signings that complemented their existing core (Stephen Weiss, Jason Garrison and Dmitry Kulikov, etc.), the Florida Panthers made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The future is bright too, as many of their top prospects are starting to come of age.
Two centers and nine wingers currently comprise the contingent of forwards with NHL ties that skated in Finland's SM-Liiga this past season. The mix of forwards skating in Finland is a wide range offers a wide range of skill sets – with a few players that were high scorers in the junior level and others who are solid two-way players.