Calgary Flames prospect Topi Ronni played all over the place last season
Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
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At times, it can feel like Calgary Flames prospect Topi Ronni is a forgotten man in the minds of fans. The club’s second-round selection in 2022, he was their first pick after they traded their first-rounder to Montreal for Tyler Toffoli. Plying his trade over in Finland’s Liiga, he’s likely a player that fans haven’t seen a ton of on the ice.
But Ronni played a lot of hockey in 2022-23, and as can happen for a junior-aged European player, he played all over the place.
Ronni began his season in mid-August with a pair of games for Tappara Tampere’s under-20 team in the J20 SM-sarja league.
Since Ronni impressed during the 2021-22 season in three different international events for Finland, he was invited to Finland’s national men’s under-20 camp in late August in Rovaniemi, Finland. (This happened as the delayed 2022 World Juniors were happening in Edmonton.) Ronni picked up a minor injury at the camp and missed a couple weeks of hockey.
Ronni returned to action with Tappara’s J20 team, played one game on Sept. 17, but caught a lingering illness and didn’t play again until Oct. 28. He was brought up to Tappara’s Liiga club, where he played three games in early November before being whisked away to Czechia for a men’s under-20 tournament.
He then returned to Liiga, where he played for the next month – as a teenager in a men’s league, he played primarily as their fourth line centre. He also dressed for a trio of Champions League games. In mid-December, he made the trek to North America for the 2023 edition of the IIHF’s World Junior tournament. Finland finished fifth in the tournament, losing to Switzerland in overtime in the quarterfinal round.
Returning to Finland, Ronni played a couple Liiga games followed by a couple J20 games, then spent the better part of the next month in the Liiga (aside from a pair of Champions League games in January and a J20 game in early February). But with a healthy, veteran-laden Liiga roster limiting Ronni’s role, he was moved back to the J20 team at the end of February in an effort to bolster that club for a playoff push.
It worked. Ronni emerged as the J20 side’s top offensive player for much of their run, posting 15 points over 12 games. Ronni ended up being a depth piece for Tappara’s Champions League win (playing limited minutes), a role player for their Liiga championship win (playing a larger role as a two-way bottom-six centre), and a big piece for their J20 championship win (serving as a top six fixture).
All-in-all, Ronni played 57 games in 2022-23: 27 with Tappara’s men’s team (22 in Liiga, 5 in Champions League), 19 with their under-20 team, and 11 international games with Finland’s national men’s under-20 team. That’s three levels of hockey, with three sets of roles and expectations he had to bounce between and adapt to.
Ronni’s eligible to return to Finland’s J20 league and World Junior team in 2023-24. While he seems like a shoo-in for the World Junior entry, his progression as a player may keep his time in Finland’s domestic junior circuit to a minimum and see him carve out a bigger role with Tappara’s men’s team. He’s set to spend July and early August at World Junior camps, including the annual USA Hockey Summer Showcase, before returning home to start the domestic season later in August.
He signed a one-year contract extension in May that covers this coming season. Depending on how his season goes, it could be his final one in Europe before entering the Flames’ entry-level system.
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