Winning two straight silver medals at the World Junior Championship has elevated the status of the elite Under-20 international tournament in Sweden so much that when coach Par Marts announced the team that will represent the country at the 2010 event in Saskatoon and Regina from Dec. 26-Jan. 5, the roster was unveiled on national television.
Leading the team will be forward Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson
and goaltender Jacob Markstrom
, two of eight holdovers from last year's team.
Markstrom, a 2008 second-round pick of the Florida Panthers
, is considered by some to be the best NHL-affiliated prospect not currently playing in the NHL. Now in his third season playing for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League, Markstrom is seventh in the league with a 2.13 goals-against average and fourth with a .919 save percentage in 22 games. It's even more impressive when you look at the standings and see Brynas ninth in the 12-team league.
At the '09 WJC, Markstrom was named the tournament's best goaltender after posting a 1.61 GAA and one shutout.
Paajarvi-Svensson, the 10th pick of the 2009 draft by the Edmonton Oilers
, will be the offensive centerpiece. He was second on last year's team with 7 points and set up Sweden's lone goal in the gold-medal game.
This season, his third in the SEL with Timra, Paajarvi-Svensson has 16 points in 25 games.
Also returning for Sweden from last year's team are defensemen David Rundblad
and Tim Erixon
, and forwards Mattias Tedenby
, Marcus Johansson
, Andre Petersson
and Jacob Josefson
Notable by their absence are defensemen Victor Hedman
and Erik Karlsson
. Hedman, the second pick of the 2009 draft, is playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning
Karlsson, taken by the Ottawa Senators
with the No. 15 pick in 2008, could be released by the Sens to play in the tournament if he isn't with the NHL team. Karlsson started the season in Ottawa, was sent to the AHL on Oct. 27, but was recalled Nov. 27. He had 11 assists in 12 AHL games, but had just 3 assists and a minus-4 rating in 10 NHL games.
Also missing from the team are goalie Robin Lehner
, a 2009 second-round pick by the Senators; defenseman Alexander Urbom
, a 2009 third-round pick by the Devils; and Gabriel Landeskog, a top-rated player for the 2011 Entry Draft. All currently are playing in the Canadian Hockey League.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com