Choosing Finland over Russia wasn’t tough for Aleksander Barkov

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With a name like Aleksander Barkov, you’d think that he’d be fighting to play on the Russian men’s hockey team. Instead, he’ll suit up for Finland, and this NBCOlympics.com profile explains why it wasn’t a difficult choice.

“Olympics are a very big thing for me,” Barkov said. “I am not sure what kind of role I will have, and it doesn’t matter for me – of course, I want to play big minutes, but that is the coach’s decision and I know there are very good players on the team.

“I will do everything that they ask to help Finland succeed.”

Considering the injuries that Finland suffered at center recently, the second pick of the 2013 NHL Draft could carry a larger workload than virtually any other teenage hockey player in Sochi. With Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula hurt, it’s likely that the 18-year-old at least moved up a bit in the Finnish depth chart.

Whatever role he receives, the Florida Panthers center is expected to be a big part of Finnish international hockey competition going forward.