The best uniforms in international hockey will be piled up again in Beijing and you must always keep Sweden in mind when talking about medals. Some legends are gone from previous games already – Henrik Lundqvist and the twins Sedin for example – but there has been a steady stream of talent that has bubbled up to get a chance to play for Tre Kronor in their place.
What is interesting about this edition of Team Sweden is how we see generational shifts play out in real time; There are some veterans here who can take on smaller roles as before, while other names come to the fore.
Sweden plays in a pool with arch-rivals Finland, as well as Slovakia and Latvia, who both got into the final qualifiers. It is certainly not a death group, but it will not be a walk in the park either. Sweden will probably fight against Finland for first place but can absolutely not see past the other two opponents. The Swedes last won gold in 2006 and were medaled most recently in 2014 and won a silver in Sochi. Let’s take a look at the potential range.
Each team gets a list of 22 skiers (14 strikers, eight defenders) and 3 goalkeepers.
Gabriel Landeskog – Elias Pettersson – William Nylander
Filip Forsberg – Mika Zibanejad – Viktor Arvidsson
William Karlsson – Nicklas Backstrom – Patric Hornqvist
Carl Hagelin – Mikael Backlund – Elias Lindholm
Adrian Kempe, Nils Hoglander
Much like the rival Canadians, the Swedes have more centers than they know what to do with, so players like Karlsson and Lindholm switch to the wings. Even there, the talent is solid, led by Landeskog and Forsberg (who could very well turn spots on a depth chart; in this case, Landy gives more physicality to an already skilled trio). If Hagelin is a surprise to you, remember his penalty-killing ability and Stanley Cup experience. Kempe can disapprove with speed, while Hoglander is young, but full of magic. Tough cuts included Victor Olofsson, Alex Wennberg and Andre Burakowsky.
Victor Hedman – John Klingberg
Mattias Ekholm – Oliver Ekman -Larsson
Jonas Brodin – Hampus Lindholm
Rasmus Dahlin – Erik Karlsson
The defense force may not seem as impressive as three years ago when Karlsson and OEL became more appreciated, but it is still a fairly solid crew. Hedman is one of the best in the NHL, Ekholm is a suspension king and to see what Dahlin could do with a strong role around him is exciting to say the least. The one fly in the ointment here is that Sweden’s best tend to be left shot blueliners, so some guys need to be moved over to the right side here. I’m sure they do not mind.
Jacob Markstrom, Robin Lehner, Linus Ullmark
The Swedes have a coin box for the starting place – something Lehner is very used to in recent years – but they will be in good shape. Markstrom has extensive international experience and won gold for his country at the 2013 World Cup. Lehner has been a little too busy going deep into the NHL playoffs lately for international service, but he would surely also meet the challenge. Ullmark is a solid third option that will undoubtedly get some nice reps with Boston early this season.