Team Sweden for the U18 World Championships

By Johan Nilsson





Untitled Document


Last year was a big step forward for Swedish junior hockey. The U18 WJC team, consisting of 87-borns, won bronze. This year, it is time for the players born 1988 to defend the yellow and blue colors at home, since the 2006 WJC’s are held in Halmstad and Ängelholm, Sweden.

The Swedish 88’s have been thought of as a rather mediocre age group and not at all as talented as the 87’s and the 89’s. They do not enter this tournament and favorites, or really strong medal candidates, but there is still a fair amount of talent on the Swedish team. Overall, team Sweden has very good goaltending, decent defense and mediocre offense. There is plenty of speed, grit and work ethic among on the Swedish players, but little creativity and scoring power.

Player
Pos
Born
HtWt
L/R
Jhonas Enroth
G
1988-06-25
5’10174
L
Stefan Ridderwall
G
1988-03-05
6’2190
L
Niclas Andersén
D
1988-04-28
6’1207
L
Kristoffer Berglund
D
1988-08-12
5’10170
L
Erik Moe
D
1988-03-06
5’11183
R
Dennis Persson
D
1988-06-02
6’1181
L
Mathias Sjöberg
D
1988-09-15
5’11192
L
Magnus Svanberg
D
1988-03-03
6’2194
L
Jonas Wallgren
D
1988-07-09
6’0176
L
Mikael Ahlén
F
1988-04-14
6’0196
R
Fredric Andersson
F
1988-10-13
5’10179
L
Joakim Andersson
F
1989-02-05
602192
L
Mikael Backlund
F
1989-03-17
6’0192
L
Patrik Berglund
F
1988-06-02
6’4187
L
Robin Figren
F
1988-03-07
5’11176
R
Jimmy Jensen
F
1988-01-24
5’11194
L
Kim Johansson
F
1988-01-21
6’1172
L
Mario Kempe
F
1988-09-19
6’0176
L
Tony Lagerström
F
1988-07-19
6’1190
L
Thomas Larsson
F
1988-01-16
6’0185
L
Patrik Lundh
F
1988-06-12
5’10163
L
Viktor Sjödin
F
1988-04-21
6’0207
R
Av Age: 17.3182 | Av Ht: 183 cm / 6’0″ | Av Wt: 84 kg / 185 lbs

Goaltending

Sweden is set in goal this year with Jhonas Enroth and Stefan Ridderwall. Enroth, a butterfly-goalie with great reflexes and lateral movement, is by many considered the top Swedish goaltending prospect since Henrik Lundqvist. The latter, the son of Swedish goaltending legend Rolf Ridderwall, is pegged as a future elite player. Enroth should enter the tournament as the starter, although Ridderwall is not that far behind skill-wise and has played well just before the WJC’s. Goaltending is not a concern for Sweden in this tournament.

Defense

The Swedish defense is rather small with stay-at-home defenseman Magnus Svanberg, being the tallest at 6’2. Svanberg, along with 6’1 207-pound defenseman Niclas Andersén will be Sweden’s most important players defensively. Both are defensive-minded and have rather limited offensive skills, but stand out in their own end with their physical play. Especially Andersén, who is the only defenseman with SEL experience on this team, plays very aggressively and is arguably the top defenseman on this team. Offensively, mobile defensemen Dennis Persson and Erik Moe will be important. They are two technically skilled players with good hockey sense and passing games. Both will be essential for Sweden’s power play. Kristoffer Berglund, Jonas Wallgren and Mathias Sjöberg are depth defensemen. All are rather unspectacular, but decent players.

Forwards

Scoring is a concern. There are very few, if any, natural goal scorers on this roster. Patrik Berglund stands out as the biggest star among forwards and has throughout the season been arguably the most consistent player on the Swedish U18 team. He is a big center with very good puckhandling skills. Berglund is a good scorer and passer and is very difficult to steal the puck from with his great reach. He could very well end up being the second Swede being drafted this summer, after top prospect Nicklas Bäckström.

The much smaller winger from Frölunda, Robin Figren, is another forward with plenty offensive skills. A speedy and technically skilled player who can score and pass and is among the most skilled players offensively.

Captain and leader Tony Lagerström is another possible Swedish draft choice this summer, and also a key player on team Sweden. He’s an above skater with good defensive skills and decent offensive awareness. The most talented player among forwards is without a doubt 89-born wonderkind Mikael Backlund, who probably ranks among the top 89’s in the world. Backlund is not expected to be a leading player already this year, but should contribute with his great hockey sense and scoring skills.

There are plenty of speedy players on this team such as Jimmy Jensen, Patrik Lundh and Mario Kempe. There is also plenty of toughness and aggressiveness with tough guys Thomas Larsson and Viktor Sjödin leading the way. Playmaking and scoring is, as previously mentioned, a concern. The Swedish power play has not really been very good and needs to click in order for Sweden to win the big games. What does point towards some Swedish success is the solid goaltending and the fact that these players play well as a team. There is a good mix of character players and most players are good at both ends.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.