After winning the World Juniors back in 2012, Sweden have since gone on to two straight silver medals, but last year Sweden failed to pick up a medal by falling 4 – 2 in the Bronze medal game to the tournaments surprise nation Slovakia.
It was a great start for the Swedes, they topped Group B with four straight wins that included a close 3 – 2 win over the eventual silver medalist Russia, but it all came undone for them in the semifinals as the Russians rallied to a 4 – 1 victory with Swedish forward Lucas Wallmark getting the lone goal that day.
Now a year later and the Swedes are closer to home with the tournament right next door in Helsinki, Finland.
It’s been over a decade since the Finns last hosted the tournament, and while much of the Swedish roster from the 2004 tournament are north of 30-years-old now, Sweden will be hoping to avoid the same results they posted the last time they played in the neighbouring country, that year they picked up just one Group stage win against Austria which condemned them to the relegation round which the eased through to stay in the top division.
Sweden will be led offensively by Toronto Maple Leaf prospect William Nylander, last year he posted 10 points, leading the team with fellow forward Oskar Lindblom just behind him with 9 points. Lindblom, a Philadelphia Flyers prospect will also look to repeat his individual successes this year when the Swedes get their tournament underway on Boxing day against Switzerland.
Hoping to join Nylander and Lindblom in Helsinki later this month in 17-year old 2016 Draft prospect, Alex Nylander, the younger brother of William. The younger Nylander is having a great year for the Mississauga Steelheads in his first OHL campaign, in 31 games he’s posted 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points which leads the team. He’s projected to go in the top 10 of this summer’s entry draft, after his brother was the 8th pick in 2014 by the Maple Leafs, he’ll be hoping to go higher and if he can earn a spot in the final roster it’ll surely help him going into the second half of the OHL season.
Last year’s starting goaltender Linus Soderstrom returns for the Swedes, the Islanders prospect played in 7 games last year posting a 2.31 GAA with a .917 save percentage and will be looking to help Sweden into medal contention following their fourth place finish last year.
Before the tournament begins on December 26th, Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg will have to trim his team down from the current 26 strong side to 23 with one defenseman and two forwards set to miss out.
Thirteen of last-years team will be hoping to return to the World Juniors stage when the final cuts come
Erik Kallgren – Linkopings HC
Felix Sandstrom – Brynas Gavle
Linus Soderstrom – Djurgarden Stockholm
Sebastian Aho – Skelleftea AIK
Gabriel Carlsson – Linkopings HC
Andreas Englund – Djurgarden Stockholm
Gustav Forsling – Linkopings HC
William Lagesson – UMass Amherst
Jacob Larsson – Frolunda Gothenburg
Adam Ollas Mattson – Djurgarden Stockholm
Marcus Pettersson – Skelleftea AIK
Rasmus Asplund – Farjestad Karlstad
Christoffer Ehn – Frolunda Gothenburg
Joel Eriksson Ek – Farjestad Karlstad
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson – Boston University
Carl Grundstrom – MODO
Axel Holmstrom – Skelleftea AIK
Anton Karlsson – Frolunda Gothenburg
Adrian Kempe – Ontario Reign
Oskar Lindblom – Brynas Gavle
Jens Looke – Brynas Gavle
Alexander Nylander – Mississauga Steelheads
William Nylander – Toronto Marlies
Fredrik Olofsson – University of Nebraska-Omaha
Dmytro Timashov – Quebec Remparts
Lukas Vejdemo – Djurgarden Stockholm