Swedish 2006 WJC preview

By Johan Nilsson

Untitled Document

Medal chances?
While Sweden will dress an overall stronger team than last year, it would still be a big surprise if the
team returns home with a medal. This year’s team does not have as many stars as last year
(Johan Fransson, Robert Nilsson, Loui Eriksson, Carl Söderberg, Nicklas Bergfors, Johannes
), but on the other hand the overall depth is greater. What makes this team
unique is that there are so many players (14) that have seen regular ice time in the SEL and therefore have an
entirely different pace of play.

The Swedes will use two second tier league goalies in the tournament, Magnus Åkerlund
and Daniel Larsson. Neither of them are considered top prospects, although
they are the top goalies in their age group. Åkerlund belongs to the Carolina Hurricanes and is the most talked about, but Larsson has been performing better and more consistently this year. Who will start could be decided after the pre-WJC exhibition games against the US and Norway.

Sweden’s defensive line-up looks really good on paper. All players are born in
1986 and there is a good mix of offensive stars like Canucks draftee Alexander Edler and Maple Leafs prospect
Anton Strålman and more defensive minded players like the physical
Petter Ullman and the solid Niklas Andersson. However, Sweden has only three defensemen taller than 6’0 and it remains to be seen if there is enough smarts and strength to handle big opposing forwards.

Among forwards, the top two players are obviously Nicklas Bergfors and
Nicklas Bäckström. The first is a dangerous goal scorer and Devils prospect and the second one a great playmaker and a top prospect for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. If struggling
WHLer Johannes Salmonsson finds his game again, he will be relied on to
put up some points as well. Salmonsson will bring a lot of speed to a group of forwards that already includes many speedy wingers. There are several good role players with big hearts, but the team lacks toughness up front. Many hoped that winger
Anton Hedman, a tough guy for the Sudbury Wolves, would be named to the team, but that did not happen.

League breakdown:
Swedish Elite League: 14
Swedish Second Tier League: 3
WHL: 3
AHL: 1

NHL team breakdown:
Detroit: 3
New Jersey: 1

Carolina: 1
Vancouver: 1
Toronto: 1
Washington: 1
Pittsburgh: 1

Edmonton: 1

Year of birth breakdown:
1986: 17
1987: 5

Average age: 18.73
Average height: 6’1
Average weight: 192 lbs

Biggest player: Johan Ryno (6’5, 209 lbs)
Smallest player: Fredrik Pettersson (5’10, 176 lbs)


PlayerPositionBorn   HeightWeight

Daniel LarssonG1986-02-076’0170

Team: Hammarby Not drafted

has quite surprisingly been among the top goalies in the Swedish second tier league. Larsson plays for Hammarby, a rather mediocre team, but has
a .920 save percentage. He will fight for the starting job with Åkerlund.

Magnus Åkerlund G1986-04-256’02185

Team: Nyköping Carolina Hurricanes

Åkerlund was before the start of the season thought of as the obvious starter in the WJC, but after having a somewhat inconsistent season he could find himself being the
backup for Daniel Larsson.


Niklas AnderssonD1986-03-056’2194

Team: Brynäs Not drafted

A solid defenseman with good defensive
skills, Andersson has good size and plays the body. He is decent offensively, but not expected to put up any
big numbers.

Alexander EdlerD1986-04-216’4212

Team: Kelowna Vancouver Canucks

has had a great year with Kelowna in the WHL and was in fact the highest scoring defenseman in WHL before he left for the Swedish WJC camp.
He will likely quarterback the Swedish power play. He has worked hard on improving his defensive skills in the WHL.

Oscar HedmanD1986-04-216’0212

Team: MODO Washington Capitals

MODO has three defensemen born
in 1986 on the Swedish WJC team. Hedman has, a tad surprisingly, often been ranked as the third best among the three in MODO this season.
He’s a two-way defenseman with very good hockey sense that can be used in many situations.

Anton StrålmanD1986-08-016’1181

Team: Timrå Toronto Maple Leafs

Strålman is among the top rookies in the SEL this season and the best defenseman on the Swedish roster. Not very big and definitely in need of bulking up, Strålman is still a very solid defenseman with fine overall skills.
He has a good shot and passing game and is together with Alexander Edler Sweden’s best offensive weapon on the blue line.

Petter UllmanD1986-11-246’0187

Team: Leksand Not drafted

is an undersized stay-at-home defenseman who loves to play the body.
He’s the most physical player on the Swedish team with limited hockey sense and technical skills, but with great attitude and toughness.

Tobias ViklundD1986-05-085’11192

Team: MODO Not drafted

A two-way defenseman that has been performing very well with MODO in the
SEL, Viklund has not been as good with the Swedish junior team this season though. Not very tall,
he is strong and difficult to beat one-on-one.

Tommy WarghD1986-12-195’10176

Team: MODO Not drafted

The smallest Swedish
defenseman, Wargh does play pretty big though and is a decent two-way defenseman.
He is probably the 5-7th defenseman on the team.


Erik AnderssonF1986-09-186’0185

Team: HV71 Not drafted

Andersson is having a great year in the SEL and putting up good numbers with top team HV71. He is a hardworking two-way center with excellent defensive skills.
He’s also a good passer and the second best center on the Swedish team.

Anton AxelssonF1986-01-166’0187

Team: Frölunda Detroit Red Wings

Just like his older brother, Boston Bruins forward PJ Axelsson,
Anton Axelsson is a speedy and hardworking two-way forward. Excellent in box play situations, Axelsson can also contribute offensively although it his defensive awareness that makes him so valuable for the Swedish team.

Nicklas BergforsF1987-03-075’11198

Team: Albany River Rats New Jersey Devils

is a natural goal scorer who has had a pretty good rookie season in the AHL as an 18-year-old.
He has excellent offensive tools, including great speed, technical skills and hockey sense.

Niklas BäckströmF1987-11-236’0183

Team: Brynäs Eligible 2006

Arguably the best and most important player on the Swedish
team, Bäckström is an all-round center with a superb passing game and hockey sense.
He has great hands and finds openings that few others can. He is expected to be an early pick in the next draft and the Swedes will rely on him feeding Bergfors the puck.

Jonathan GranströmF1986-03-095’10194

Team: Mora Not drafted

A smallish and gritty forward with a great
work ethic, Granström always gives 100 percent and is a perfect checking line player. He can also be used on a scoring
line as well, as he makes room for his linemates with his play.

Mattias HellströmF1986-06-186’1196

Team: MODO Not drafted

is a defensive minded center who is logging good minutes in the SEL with MODO. A major offensive output is not to be expected, although Hellström does most things rather well.
He is the likely third line center.

Sebastian KarlssonF1986-09-196’0192

Team: Frölunda Not drafted

A two-way center that has had a rather mediocre season in the SEL and in the junior league with Frölunda.
He is a good playmaker and quite technically skilled. Sebastian is the younger brother of Los Angeles Kings prospect Jens Karlsson.

Robin LindqvistF1987-08-166’2192

Team: Luleå Not drafted

Lindqvist has great defensive skills and is among the toughest forwards on the Swedish team.
It’s a team that lacks really powerful forwards, but Lindqvist is among those that can throw a good hit.
He’s not very flashy, but very steady and reliable in his play.

Fredrik PetterssonF1987-06-105’10183

Team: Calgary Hitmen Edmonton Oilers

Pettersson is a speedy winger
who has played well with the Calgary Hitmen this fall. He’s a natural goal scorer with a fine shot and great technical skills. Entertaining to watch with his intensity on the ice,
he plays big despite of his smallish frame.

Mattias RitolaF1987-03-146’1198

Team: Leksand Detroit Red Wings

He’s considered to be a bit lazy, but when on his game Ritola is up there with the best ones on the team. His technical skills are superb and he has plenty of slick moves up his sleeve.

Johan RynoF1986-06-056’5209

Team: Oskarshamn Detroit Red Wings

A 6’5 209lbs monster
who is surprisingly quick on his feet and possesses good hands and hockey sense. Ryno has a nose for the net and has pretty much been the top forward on his team in the Swedish second tier league.
He looks like a potential steal for the Detroit Red Wings.

Johannes SalmonssonF1986-02-076’2198

Team: Spokane Chiefs Pittsburgh Penguins

Arguably the fastest player on the
team, Salmonsson moved from Sweden this summer and was expected to become a big time scorer in the WHL. That has, however, not been the case and Salmonsson was lucky to make the Swedish WJC team. He has been very good in the previous to WJC tournaments and coach Torgny Bendelin is hoping he will show up once again.

Oscar SundhF1986-10-226’2196

Team: St.
Not drafted

Sundh has very quick feet, good hockey sense and work ethic. He has been the top forward in St. John’s and put up good numbers in his rookie season in the
QMJHL. He can be used on a scoring line as well as in a checking role.


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