While the United States tweaks their roster that will
be released very soon, I will continue preview the countries that will
participate in the 2013 World Junior Championships.
This article will preview Team Sweden, the defending
gold medal winners from the 2012 World Junior Championships.
The Swedes captured their first gold medal in 31
years, defeating Russia 1-0 in overtime.
Sweden's young, talent-laden roster features 14 players
who have ties to the National Hockey League and players who are eligible for
the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Up front, Sweden brings back exciting forwards like
Sebastian Collberg, William Karlsson, Victor Rask and Rickard Rakell.
However, the player that many look to as the Sweden's
biggest offensive threat is Washington Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg. The
skilled two-way forward is having a decent year with Leksand, scoring nine
goals and 10 assists in 22 games.
A notable absence from Team Sweden's forwards is
Ottawa Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad.
Ottawa made a controversial decision to keep
Zibanejad in the American Hockey League instead of allowing him to play for
In addition to featuring NHL prospects, the forward
group features players that one day will be drafted into the NHL.
This particular group is highlighted by Elias
Lindholm, a popular choice by pundits to be taken early in the first round of
the 2013 draft.
Lindholm is one of Team Sweden's top centers, along
with Karlsson, and could prove to be a key player if Sweden wants to reach the
gold medal game.
We could see a line of Rakell, Elais Lindholm and great
skater Pontus Aberg. Another combination could be a line consisting of
Forsberg, Karlsson and Collberg.
If you are Sweden, you really can do no wrong with
the combination you chose to put on the ice.
Other notable draft prospects include Victor
Arvidsson, who I expect to have a great tournament, Jeremy Boyce-Rotevall and
The Swedish defense will be missing key defensive
stalwarts because of injury.
Jonas Brodin and Oskar Klefbom will miss the World
Juniors due to nagging injuries. Both were an integral part of Sweden's gold
medal team and were a big reason why Sweden was able to inhibit Russia's
One of Sweden's weaknesses is the lack of strong
The loss of Brodin and Klefbom opens the door for defensemen
Hampus Lindholm and Rasmus Bengtsson to eat the shutdown minutes on the
I think Christian Djoos could play 20 minutes or
more for the Swedes as well.
In goal, there is an interesting assembly of
goaltenders that all could see time in the tournament.
The number one goalie, in my opinion, is Oskar
Dansk, who plays for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, will log
plenty of minutes between the pipes.
However, Niklas Lundstrom will get his fair share,
and could potentially overtake Dansk for the number one spot.
Sweden's third option is Joel Lassinantti , who is eligible
for the 2013 NHL Draft.
Sweden has the advantage of not being in the same
group as Canada, Russia and the United States.
I expect Sweden to place first in their group,
having only Finland and the Czech Republic to worry about in their group.
That said, I think Sweden will take a step back this
year because of the injuries of key players and the absence of Zibanejad.
While Sweden should win their group, they will not
earn a spot in the gold medal game. The will however not go home empty handed.
I have Sweden earning a bronze medal at the World
Juniors by defeating the United States.
Wednesday, I will preview Russia's World Junior