SWEDEN NAMES SQUAD FOR JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
When Team Sweden Head Coach Mats Hallin named his team for the Junior World Championships it was quite clear to everyone what kind of attributes he was looking for in his players;
The smallest defenseman on the team is Edmonton Oilers draftee Jonas Elofsson (6’1, 180), who is a rushing defenseman, who has good offensive instincts, but he is not reliable in his own zone nor with his effort. The smallest forward is Södertälje’s Per Hallin (5’11, 185), who happens to be Coach Mats Hallin’s son.
The biggest player on the team is MoDo’s Henrik Mellinder (6’5, 225), who was also the biggest surprise to be named on the team. Mellinder has played only two Elite League games in his career, and he only got to play because MoDo has been struck hard by injuries to their defensemen. Mellinder seems to like the physical side of the game, and he is by no means a finesse player. He is a slowfooted stay-at-home defenseman with limited skills.
Given the size of the players on the team (average size is 6’2, 194), they shouldn’t be pushed around in any game, and the thinking is that they will be more effective on the North American ice-surface than smaller players.
Offensively, they will be led by the Sedin Twins, who will be interesting to watch against physical players in smaller rinks. They are extremely skilled and gifted, but as I have stated in a previous column – I’m not sure yet about their toughness. I have watched numerous games with them, and I still haven’t seen either one of them throw a decent hit.
They should get help with the offensive workload from Jonas Elofsson and feisty Färjestad player Christian Berglund, who was drafted in the 2nd round by the New Jersey Devils (37th overall).
Someone who was expected to be a leader on this team, or atleast he once was expected to be one – in the summer of 1997 when he was drafted – is Mighty Ducks first round pick Mikael Holmkvist. Now, Holmkvist is out with an injury but he made some very surprising statements in a Swedish newspaper saying that Hallin wasn’t aware of his injury and that he was simply cut from the team. As disappointing as Holmkvist has been (0 points, and very limited ice-time with Färjestad) it would be a big surprise if he was cut from a team with as many undrafted 18- and 19-year olds like Team Sweden.
In the bang-and-crash department, look out for big winger Marcus Kristoffersson (6’3, 205) who was produced 0 points and 28 PIM in 14 Elite-League games, and Henrik Tallinder who some think will be named captain for the team. Tallinder is a physical stay-at-home defenseman who can skate good enough. He will surely log many minutes during this tourament. Above-mentioned Mellinder should also be noticed.
A potential weakness on the team is the lack of right-handed shots. The only players, who shoot righty, on the team is Troja Right Winger Mattias Weinhandl.
Another questionmark is the goalies. HV71 backup Andreas Andersson has appeared in 3 Elite-League games so far this season, and he is sporting a 5.07 GAA, and a 83.3% Save-percentage. Brynäs backup Johan Asplund has appeared in two games, and he has respectable number at a 3.00 GAA and a 91.0% Save Percentage.
I have to note that some of these names are new to me too. Coverage of juniorhockey is very poor in Sweden, and it’s mainly up to the fans to try and find out as much as they can. For example, we haven’t even gotten the JWC’s on TV the past years. That’s an event that should be a given in a hockey-country such as Sweden.
To sum it up, this is a team that may struggle to score goals if the Sedin’s aren’t at the top of their game. It’s also a team that might try to beat Canada at their own game in Canada’s back yard, which would be a horrible idea – the Swedes need to play their disciplined brand of hockey to have a chance to win, because talentwise they won’t be the best team in the tournament. Other than the Sedin’s, Henrik Tallinder is a good prospect and even though he isn’t flashy I would not be surprised if he earned himself some time in the spotlight.
Team Sweden Roster:
# PP Name Age Ht. Wt. Drafted-NHL:
1 GK Andersson Andreas, 19, 6’1, 195, Anaheim
30 GK Asplund Johan, 18, 6’2, 190,
3 RD Bäckman Christian, 18, 6’2, 191, St.Louis
4 RD Lindström Sanny, 19, 6’2, 194,
6 LD Halvardsson Johan, 19, 6’4, 200,
7 LD Elofsson Jonas, 19, 6’1, 180, Edmonton
8 RD Melinder Henrik, 19, 6’5, 225,
10 LD Wallin Viktor, 18, 6’3, 205, Anaheim
14 LD Ytfeldt David, 19, 6’1, 191, Vancouver
25 RD Tallinder Henrik, 19, 6’4, 205, Buffalo
12 LW Sedin Daniel, 18, 6’2, 185,
15 CE Karlsson Gabriel, 18, 6’2, 200, Dallas
16 LW Hallin Per, 18,5’11, 185,
17 RW Tjärnqvist Mathias,19, 6’2, 185,
19 RW Berglund Christian,18, 6’0, 189, New Jersey
20 CE Sedin Henrik, 18, 6’3, 198,
21 CE Persson Niklas, 19, 6’3, 200,
22 RW Kristoffersson M 19, 6’3, 205, Dallas
24 LW Ölvestad Jimmie, 18, 6’1, 195,
26 CE Karlin Mattias, 19, 6’0, 198,
28 CE Johansson Jakob, 19, 6’1, 180,
**It should be noted that almost every player on this list has been listed as one inch taller, and 5-10 pounds heavier than on the normal listings that are used.