Last year’s runner up and Silver Medal winner is this year’s host Nation. Sweden will be a serious contender to win Gold at home as they boast a formidable lineup consisting of 18 NHL drafted players and three 2014 draft eligible players.
Sweden’s chances for Gold grew significantly when the Carolina Hurricanes agreed to loan their 2013 fifth overall future star, Elias Lindholm for the tournament. Lindholm has played in 21 NHL games as a rookie, and while his seven points are not particularly impressive, his three point night against the San Jose Sharks on December sixth gives you a glimpse of his offensive potential. Lindholm is an offensive forward who brings a good NHL pedigree to the table with his father Mikael, a former Los Angeles King and his cousin Calle Jarnkrok a highly ranked prospect in the Red Wings organization. He always plays hard and is surprisingly gritty considering his average size, but that’s all part of his game that makes him such a great prospect. He is responsible in his own end, but still has a ton of skill.
Montreal Canadiens fans will want to pay close attention to Sweden’s games as two Hab’s prospects will play a prominent role for the Tre Kronor in Sebastian Collberg and Jacob De La Rose. Collberg is only 5’11” and 181 pounds but the 2012 draft pick has a terrific skill set and is very fast. Despite being slight in stature, he does not shy away from traffic or bigger competition. Watch for his elite level and deadly accurate wrist shot. De La Rose is a very contrasting player to Collberg. He is a tall lanky player who has been playing against men and initiates physical play. De La Rose is an aggressive player with good skill and decent skating ability; he brings what Sweden will need to compete with the more physical teams such as Canada and USA.
The OHL leading Erie Otters are going to miss two of their top players as well as Andre Burakovsky and Oscar Dansk will be part of the core for Sweden as well. Burakovsky is one of several Erie players tearing up the OHL this season. His impressive 47 points in 31 games is only good for fourth on his team in scoring.
Burakovsky also has some NHL pedigree as he is the son of former Ottawa Senator Robert Burakovsky and is a 2013 first round pick of the Washington Capitals. Oscar Dansk had some brutal stats in his draft season playing on a poor Erie team with a GAA of 4.11 and a save % of 0.888. He may be the best goalie drafted in 2012 and now that his team in front of him has improved, his stats have turned around to a very impressive 2.17 GAA and a 0.919 save % and a 16-3-1 record. Dansk may dominate this tournament and his fantasy stock may go through the roof. He is the player to watch for Sweden
Another prospect from the Columbus Blue Jackets system playing for Sweden is one of their three 2013 first round draft picks, Alex Wennberg. Wennberg is a highly skilled playmaking centre with great skill, decent size who is developing in the mould of Patrick Berglund.
A sleeper player to keep an eye out for is Toronto Maple Leafs seventh round pick from the 2013 draft, Andreas Johnson. Johanson is a high energy, fast skating player with very good hands in terms of stickhandling and passing. He is playing on a Frolunda team in the Swedish League and will likely play on the top line with his Frolunda teammates Wennberg and Collberg. Johnson has 14 goals and eight assists in 31 games and his stock is rising fast. He needs to be on your radar.
Anton Karlsson is a 2014 draft eligible forward who is projected to be a first round pick. He is a skilled and very smart player who excels on both sides of the puck. There is a lot to like about his game and his NHL and fantasy future.
The Swedish defense may be their weakness but will be led by Gustav Olofsson, A Minnesota Wild 2013 second round pick. Olofsson is a big 6’2” defensive player who will play big minutes for Sweden. He has limited offensive skill. The offense will have to come from the Dallas Stars 2012 second round pick Ludwig Bystrom. Bystrom has good fantasy upside as he has the ability to carry the puck up the ice in transition, and quarterback the powerplay. He also has a physical element to his game so if your league scores greasy stats like PIMs and hits he has extra value.
Ultimately the success of team Sweden should come down to the performance of Oscar Dansk. This needs to be his coming out party.