Sweden enters the 2014 Olympic hockey tournament with high hopes and a new leadership core. This is no longer a group led by the likes of Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg and Niklas Lidstrom. This team will need to be led by Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg and Erik Karlsson.
Sweden finished 5th in Vancouver, losing to Slovakia in the quarterfinals. They last won gold at the Olympics in 2006, where they defeated Finland by a score of 3-2.
Round Robin Opponents
Sweden will be competing in pool C along with Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.
Sweden has a high end top 6 that is led by their veterans, such as Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Niklas Backstrom, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg and Loui Eriksson. Their bottom 6 forwards are mostly comprised of up an coming players like Gabriel Landeskog, Carl Hagelin and Marcus Kruger. The wild cards in this group are Joel Lundqvist and Jimmie Ericsson as they both play in the Swedish Elite League. Lundqvist’s short NHL career aside, they are unknown quantities on this side of the ocean. Although the Swedes lack a grinding element, they boast talent and skill throughout the lineup that will be tough to contain.
Zetterberg – Backstrom – Franzen
Sedin – Sedin – Eriksson
Landeskog – Steen – Johansson
Hagelin – Berglund – Hornqvist
Sweden’s defense is top-notch while still being quite young. They have some very good puck movers in Erik Karlsson, Alex Edler and Oliver Ekman-Larsson; and some very good shutdown defencemen, such as Niklas Kronwall, Jonas Brodin and Victor Hedman. Sweden did suffer a set-back with Tobias Enstrom declining to participate to focus on Winnipeg, although this can be considered a minor set-back and should be easily overcome with their depth on the blue-line. Even though Edler is suspended for the first two games of the tournament, for his knee on knee hit with Eric Staal, the Swedes will not leave him off the roster.
Karlsson – Ekman-Larsson
Edler – Kronwall
Hedman – Brodin
There is no question about it, this is Henrik Lundqvist’s crease. Behind him are some goalies in the pipeline that should be pushing for the starting job in 2018 (assuming NHL participation). Although Lehner has seen limited duty in Ottawa thus far, what he has shown has been excellent. Since Lehner is only 22 years old, he is a long-shot to see playing duty. Look for Enroth to take the back-up job after leading Sweden to the 2013 World Championship.
Most likely to get snubbed
It appears that this will likely be Daniel Alfredsson, as he wasn’t invited to the orientation camp, and hasn’t been lighting it up so far this season to make the Swedish Olympic Team change their mind. With so many young players already expected to be on this roster and even more coming through the NHL, it appears that Alfredsson is no longer part of the Olympic team’s plans.
Sweden should make easy work of their pool but the real test will be entering the elimination rounds. This is where the Swedes stumbled last time against Slovakia in the quarterfinals in 2010. Sweden is the reigning world champion, winning on the backs of the Sedins and Loui Eriksson. They will again be leaned on to produce. With elite defence and goaltending, Sweden should be considered one of the favourites to win gold.
Other Roster Previews:
November 11: Russia
November 12: USA
November 13: Sweden
November 14: Czech Republic
November 18: Slovakia
November 19: Switzerland
November 20: Finland
November 21: Canada
Follow Ryan Biech on Twitter: @ryanbiech