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2022 Top 25 Under 25 | 7: Petra Nieminen

Finland’s finest young forward lands inside our Top 10

Ice Hockey - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day -1 Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Our T25 under U25 series continues with...

Last Season

The 2021-22 season was a roaring success for Petra Nieminen, who turned 23 earlier this month. That, my friends, is really saying something because both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons were also undeniable successes for the Finnish forward.

Let’s start with the tournament that matters the most to everyone — the Olympics. In Beijing, Nieminen led the way for Finland and shined despite her team’s rocky start. She finished the tournament tied with Susanna Tapani for the team lead in scoring, picking up 3 goals and 5 assists in 7 GP. Nieminen averaged over 4.0 SOG/GP and averaged 19:49 TOI/GP — which ranked third among Finnish forwards in the tournament.

It was a convincing performance for Nieminen, who had a lot of eyes on her after scoring 6 goals in 7 GP at the 2021 Worlds. The world expected her to look like one of the most dangerous forwards in the tournament and she did just that. She and Tapani were tied for third in scoring among all European skaters in Beijing.

Back in Sweden, Nieminen had another outstanding campaign in the SDHL with Luleå. She led the eventual SM-gold championship squad in scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs. Nieminen had 26 goals and 29 assists in 34 games, which was good for third in the league in scoring behind Lara Stalder and American Sydney Brodt.

My favorite number from Nieminen’s 2021-22 season was her averaging 5.89 SOG/GP for Luleå. That’s a staggering shot volume in a league with as much talent as the SDHL. Everyone who played Luleå was tring to stop Nieminen and she averaged nearly 6 SOG/GP. That’s unbelievable.

Major Accomplishments

  • Two Olympic bronze medals (2018, 2022).
  • One World Championship silver (2019) and two World bronze medals (2017, 2021).
  • Three-time SM-gold (2022, 2021, 2020)
  • SM-sarja (now Naisten Liiga) Noora Räty Award (2016)
  • 2021 Worlds All-Star First Team and tournament leader in goals (6).

What Comes Next

Nieminen is the featured offensive threat of Finland’s future with Michelle Karvinen approaching her mid-30s. It’s still early, but she has a chance to chase down a lot of records that Karvinen and Riikka Sallinen have established as the greatest Finnish forwards to ever play the game. That’s how special Petra Nieminen is.

She will be on the national team for at least another decade if she stays healthy and if that is what she wants to do. Goal-scoring centers are rare commodities and Nieminen is already one of the very best in the world at the age of 23. If she stays in the SDHL, she’ll remain a dominant force regardless of who she plays for. If she stays with Luleå, there will be a lot more SM-gold in her future and a scoring title is definitely in the cards for a player of her caliber.

It’s hard to say what the ceiling is for Nieminen. She’s already so good and isn’t yet in her prime. If this is as “good” as she gets, she’ll stay what she already is — one of the best players in the world at her position. But, given her meteoric rise over the past few seasons, it looks like Nieminen is just getting started. Her future couldn’t be brighter.

Too High or too Low

Seven just feels too low. I went out of my way to write about the Finns in our T25 U25 series because I fear they never get the credit or the respect they deserve by most North American media members and content creators. Given what she’s done in her last two major international tournaments, you could make a case for her being a Top-10 forward in the world right now. And she’s 23. That’s wild.

In my book, she should be Top-5 on this list.