Given their status as the host country and the fact that the team has been an offensive powerhouse so far at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, the Finnish squad has received a great deal of attention from media and fans alike at this tournament. But the best squad overall through the preliminary round was Team Sweden, who posted a 4-0-0-0 record in a Group A that included Canada and the USA.
Sweden’s offense is being led by a Nylander, just not the one that everyone expected to be in that position. With William having played just one game due to injury, brother Alexander has taken the offensive reigns for the Swedes through the four preliminary round games. Nylander, who plays for the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL and is a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, has posted three goals and five assists, a total that ties him with Patrik Laine (FIN) and Auston Mattthews (USA) for third overall in WJC scoring.
More importantly, perhaps, Sweden gave up just five goals in their four opening round games, which ties them with the USA in that category. The Swedes have brought a strong defensive contingent to this tournament, one that features a good mix of skill and grit, and the goaltending of Linus Soderstrom (NYI) has certainly played a part in the low goal total, as well.
One of Sweden’s defensive contingent at this tournament is Andreas Englund (OTT), who plays for Djurgarden IF in the SHL. The big defender leans more to the defensive side of the ledger as he has produced just one assist at this WJC. But Englund brings a physical element to his game, as noted by his eight penalty minutes through the first four games.
Another highly-regarded 2016 prospect playing for Sweden is Rasmus Asplund. The Farjestad forward has scored two goals and added two assists to date at this tournament while playing with Nylander on Sweden’s second line.
Asplund and Englund spoke with Hockey’s Future following the win over Canada, conversations included in this HF video.
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