While the 2022 Swedish World Junior team is a deep squad, the lack of high-end talent will make it tough to compete with the top nations. A year after Sweden’s long round-robin winning streak ended with a 2-2 record en route to a fourth-place finish, they will be in tough to get back on the podium.
There is no doubt that Sweden should get through the group stage, but the team to beat will be Russia, which has accumulated some fantastic talent and should challenge for the championship as a whole. They are both in a tough group, with the United States, Slovakia, and Switzerland joining them. Any setback in the group stage could mean a quarter-final matchup with Finland or Canada.
Team Sweden final roster
|#||Player||Position||League||Current team (NHL)|
|#||Player||Position||League||Current team (NHL)|
|30||Calle Clang||G||SHL||Rögle BK (PIT)|
|35||Jesper Vikman||G||WHL||Vancouver Giants (VGK)|
|1||Jesper Wallstedt||G||SHL||Luleå (MIN)|
|4||Emil Andrae||D||HockeyAllsvenskan||HV71 (PHI)|
|7||Simon Edvinsson||D||SHL||Frölunda HC (DET)|
|6||Måns Forsfjäll||D||SHL||Skellefteå AIK|
|3||Helge Grans||D||AHL||Ontario Reign (LAK)|
|8||Leo Lööf||D||Liiga||Ilves (STL)|
|26||Joel Nyström||D||SHL||Färjestad BK (CAR)|
|5||Anton Olsson||D||SHL||Malmö (NSH)|
|17||William Eklund||F||SHL||Djugårdens IF (SJS)|
|24||Elliot Ekmark||F||SHL||Linköping HC (FLA)|
|10||Alexander Holtz||F||AHL||Utica Comets (NJD)|
|9||Daniel Ljungman||F||SHL||Linköping HC (DAL)|
|11||Fabian Lysell||F||WHL||Vancouver Giants (BOS)|
|28||Oksar Magnusson||F||HockeyAllsvenskan||AIK (WSH)|
|27||Theodor Niederbach||F||SHL||Frölunda HC (DET)|
|18||Zion Nybeck||F||HockeyAllsvenskan||HV71 (CAR)|
|21||Oksar Olausson||F||OHL||Barrie Colts (COL)|
|23||Isak Rosén||F||SHL||Leksands IF (BUF)|
|20||Albert Sjöberg||F||HockeyAllsvenskan||Södertälje SK (DAL)|
|15||Åke Stakkestad||F||HockeyAllsvenskan||BIK Karlskoga|
|19||Elias Stenman||F||SHL||Skellefteå AIK|
|29||Daniel Torgersson||F||HockeyAllsvenskan||AIK (WPG)|
As always, the strength of the Swedish team will be from the net out, with their goaltending and defence. Jesper Wallstedt is likely the clear number one, with Calle Clang backing him up. Wallstedt looked solid in the starts he got in Ängelholm during the 4-Nations tournament in November, even if he was left alone sometimes by the Swedish defence.
The goalie from Luleå was perceived as a top-10 NHL Draft pick, but fell to the Minnesota Wild at pick 20. He has been strong for Luleå in the SHL, with a 1.82 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 17 games. He is strong, and an attacking kind of goalie who will challenge the forwards at any given time. He is tough to rattle, and will be able to cary the Swedish team going forward.
Looking at the defence, the main player is Simon Edvinsson, who has taken on a first-pairing role with Frölunda alongside former NHLer Christian Folin. Edvinsson will be used in all situations by the coaching staff, and the WJC should be a sort of coming-out party to the average hockey fan. He will have free rein, much in the way that Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Sandin had before him.
The defence is so deep that coach Tomas Montén has left William Wallinder off the roster, one of the best U20 defenders in Sweden. The Detroit Red Wings prospect has carved out a role with Sweden and possibly continental Europe’s best team, Rögle, and it is surprising that he has been left off the roster. Like Thomas Bordeleau on Team USA, it is a tough omission as a positive COVID-19 test left him off of last year’s roster as well.
The forward group is lacking a bit of quality and I can’t see Sweden challenge the top contenders even if they manage to keep the score down. Their forward group may all come down to the NHL talent on the roster: William Eklund and Alexander Holtz. Neither really needs an introduction as they both made their NHL debuts this year. Eklund was sent back to Sweden to get more minutes, and Holtz played six games with the New Jersey Devils before being sent to the AHL for further development.
Beyond those two, it is a deep group, but one that doesn’t necessarily have the skill to make things happen offensively.
The two wild cards up front are Isak Rosén and Zion Nybeck, great offensive-minded players who need to be used in the right way to benefit the Swedish team. Nybeck oozes skill and he can dangle with the best of them, the question is if he will be able to do that on a smaller rink. Rosén is a player who uses his skates and his speed to get by defenders. His skating technique is great, and he will shoulder- and hip-fake players to go the wrong way in order to create space for himself.
There is undoubtedly skill on this Swedish team, but there is a big jump from the first line to the second. To me, it is all about the first unit of Edvinsson and Grans on defence and Holtz, Eklund, and Oskar Olausson up front. If that line works at five-on-five as well as on the power play, then Sweden will look okay, but I don’t see the other lines being able to create as much offence as Russia, Canada, USA, or Finland.