IF WE’RE GOING TO make a blanket statement, Swedes don’t like to draw attention to themselves. But for several players on this year’s world junior squad, that’s not going to be a choice. “Sweden is going to be more star driven than usual,” said one scout. “It’s going to be a little more flashy. You’ll be looking at individuals to do their thing rather than three or four lines.”
Headlining the marquee are forwards Elias Pettersson (VAN) and Lias Andersson (NYR) and top 2018 draft prospect Rasmus Dahlin on defense. All three return from last year’s fourth-place team, and getting Sweden back on the podium for the first time since 2014 is a priority. The on-ice work shouldn’t be too difficult, but keeping focus with international media at their doors will be something to consider. “It’s going to be a lot of eyes on Dahlin,” said the scout. “The media attention will be on those guys.”
On top of the mentioned players, there’s also NHL first-rounders Erik Brannstrom (VEG) and Timothy Liljegren (TOR) on the back end. They’ll help make Sweden’s defense corps a dangerously mobile puck-moving group. Brannstrom and Dahlin often lead the rush in a fourth-forward kind of role.
Aiding Andersson and Petgterrosusponthuapt fhraosntscwoirlilnbgepauvnectheraannd hard-working, reliable players such as Fredrik Karlstrom (DAL) and Tim Soderlund (CHI).
As per usual, the Swedes will bhyavFeilcipapGaubslteavgsosaolnte(nPdIiTn)g. ,Hlee’ds a veteran from last year’s squad and had a good showing at the World Junior Summer Showcase. With all the positions covered, Sweden’s final challenge is a mental one. This team has been crestfallen by losses zthoempbaiestpceorufoprlme yaenacress, itnurtnhiengbrionnze medal game before last year’s overtime loss to Russia. Perseverance will be a key.