The Junior WC rosters continue to be released as we approach the premier international junior event of the year. Sweden has released its preliminary listwhich is loaded with talent with 16 NHL draftees and two potential first-rounders for the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft.
Sweden looks to be strong up front with a number of highly skilled players, including six first-round picks and a projected top-five pick for this year’s NHL draft. Their blueline is good but lacks some staples from the team’s recent junior international team. Their goaltending lacks the standout in Jesper Wallstedt that they’ve had in recent years, but they should be more than capable of holding down the fort.
Noah Östlund, Jonathan Lekkerimaki and Liam Ohgren were all drafted in the first round last year, between picks 15 and 19. They have been dynamic together in the past and could very well form the Swedish top line at the Junior WC.
The trio fits the stylistic archetype so many teams want to fill a line at the top of their lineup. Ostlund is the creative and skilled game center. Lekkerimaki is the goal-scoring winger with a poor shot. Ohgren is the hard-working winger who wins battles and cleans up around the net. Each of them can do a little bit of everything offensively but their strengths line up quite well and could make them one of the best lines in the tournament.
Djurgården will also be represented on the back of Calle Odelius and goalkeeper Carl Lindbom.
Despite Simon Edvinsson The Red Wings are expected to become one of Sweden’s best players and chose not to play at the world juniors and continue their development in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins. The team will miss the star, but he is far from the only notable omission from the roster.
Blueline takes a couple more hits due to injuries like Elias Salomonsson and Mattias Havelid both will miss the tournament. Both players would have been offensive options from the blue line with Edvinsson gone.
Anton Olsson has been a staple of Swedish international teams since his U-16 days, including being a member of the U-20 squad at the summer world juniors, but he was not included in the list this time around, meaning the Swedes will have a smaller return than expected .
Liam Dower-Nilsson, a forward who has captained international events as recently as U-18 in 2021, was also left off the list. Albert Sjöberg, Alexander Suzdalev and Ludwig Persson were all forwards that many expected to also be on the list.
The 2023 NHL Draft is eligible to play a big role
Leo Carlson and Axel Sandin-Pellikka were on the world junior roster and both were able to play quite important roles despite being the youngest players on the team. Both 2023 draft-eligible players have had impressive seasons thus far and earned the right to play with the U-20 squad.
Carlsson is a center who mixes skill and power in a way that could make him one of Sweden’s most unique players. He has played at the SHL level and scored at a rate similar to Mats Naslund and Nicklas Bäckström in their draft years. Carlsson will look to showcase his game on the international stage and solidify his position as a top-five pick in the 2023 draft class. The young Swede could end up centering the team’s second line behind Ostlund and the Djurgården trio, and help lead the second wave of Swedish forwards.
Sandin-Pellikka has been one of the biggest risers in the draft class this season, showing off his impressive puck movement ability and mobility with and without the puck. With so many of the top names unavailable on the blue line for the Swedes, Sandin-Pellikka could find himself in a position to be an offensive contributor and possible power play quarterback for the team. He will have to earn his role, but Sandin-Pellika playing a big role in the back is certainly a possibility based on the natural skill level that he possesses.
The tournament starts in Halifax, NS and Moncton, NB from December 26th to January 5th.