Sweden Unveils Olympic Roster
Sweden unveiled their mostly Veteran-laced line-up today, for next February's Olympic tournament.
Their seemingly stacked roster contains mostly NHL names, including former NHL superstar and very controversial center Peter Forsberg, who along with Mattias Ohlund, Daniel Alfredsson and captain Nicklas
Lidstrom, will appear in his 4th Olympic tournament. Lidstrom was the obvious choice for captain, as the only European captain to ever win a Stanley Cup. And despite the leadership of such big names as Alfredsson, Zetterberg, Forsberg or the Sedins, he will be a good leader for his country.
The Swedish roster is laced with 13 members of the 2006 Torino team that won gold. However, 5 of their 8 defensemen are first timers (Murray, Johansson, Enstrom, Oduya, and surprisingly, Henrik Tallinder).
And although Peter Forsberg's addition to the team is as controversial as the last few years of his career, he won't be the only player on team Sweden with injury troubles this year. Ottawa captain Daniel Aldredsson is currently out with a shoulder injury, and although he should be ready for the event, his conditioning will be in question. Henrik Zetterberg is also currently out with an injury, albeit less severe than Alfie's. His teammate Niklas Kronwall has been out with a knee injury for nearly two months.
Goaltending is solid for Sweden, who will rely on gold medal winner Henrik Lunqvist for the bulk of the work. Stefan Liv may be an unknown to North Americans, but he was a part of 2006's gold medal winning team and he will back-up the king. Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson will ride the taxi.
The biggest omission from the roster was Johan Franzen, but it is doubtful he would have returned from his knee injury in time for the event.
Surprisingly left off the list were Kristan Hulesius, who ranks seventh amongst Swedish scorers in the NHL and who would be familiar with teammates Fred Modin (the biggest surprise on the roster) and Sammy Paahlson, among others. The left winger has 550 games of NHL experience, and has played in two world juniors and 3 world championships for his country, collecting two bronze medals and scoring 21 points in 25 games. Definitely a surprise omission from an outsider's perspective.
Also missing from the list was Niclas Bergfors, the New Jersey winger who is an early candidate for rookie of the year. Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Edler from Vancouver were also omitted, as were last year's 2nd overall pick, Viktor Hedman, Minnesota's Kim Johnsson and Dallas' Fabian Brunnstrom. Johan Hedberg from Atlanta was the only goaltending omission of note, but not a surprise.
If anything, these omissions speak highly of Sweden's depth, which has been overshadowed by the talk of Canada's favored spot in February's event. It would be hard to remove anyone form their spot for the above mentioned names.
Sweden clearly went for both balanced lines and somewhat of a checking line and a few defensive defensemen, just like russia did and just like people have been talking about Canada. Samuelsson, Huselius, and Bergfors, Hedman and Edler, they could have very well been chosen over the Modins and Paahlssons, the Tallinders and Murrays for their offense, but Paahlsson's Stanley Cup winning experience will serve Sweden well at the Olympics
Here is the Swedish roster. Lines are, of course, tentative/projected:
Daniel Sedin (VAN) - Henrik Sedin (VAN) - Henrik Zetterberg (DET)
Tomas Holmstrom (DET) - Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) - Daniel Aldredsson (OTT)
Loui Eriksson (DAL) - Peter Forsberg (MODO) - Patric Hornqvist (NAS)
Fredrik Modin (CLB) - Sammy Paahlsson (CLB) - Mattias Weinhandl (RUS)
Niklas Kronwall (DET) - Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)
Mattias Ohlund (TB) - Henrik Tallinder (BUF)
Tobias Enstrom (ATL) - Douglas Murray (SJ)
Johnny Oduya (NJ) - Magnus Johansson (Linkopings)
Henrik Lunqvist (NYR)
Jonas Gustavsson (TOR)
Stefan Liv (HV 71)
Sweden, along with Russia, represent the biggest gold medal threats at next year's Olympics. And while Canada will certainly be garnering the most cheer's at the Vancouver event, Sweden has an exciting and proven line-up which includes the Canucks two best forwards. They will represent a threat to both Canada on the ice and in the stands come February.