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Team Sweden roster projection for World Cup

by Janne Bengtsson

Team Sweden will enter the World Cup of Hockey with a new coach, Rikard Gronborg. But with 10 years of experience as a national junior team coach on different levels, Gronborg has a relationship with many of the young Swedes playing in the NHL.

Some of them won't make the 2016 team; Jonas Brodin (Minnesota Wild), Elias Lindholm (Carolina Hurricanes), Hampus Lindholm (Anaheim Ducks) and Jakob Silfverberg (Anaheim Ducks), to name a few. Veterans Johnny Oduya (Dallas Stars) and Mikael Backlund (Calgary Flames) also likely are on the outside.

Gronborg will be helped by an advisory board that includes three of the best Swedish players of all time: Nicklas Lidstrom, Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson, who combined to play 4,102 NHL games.

Sweden, which lost to Canada in the gold-medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, will start its 2016 World Cup experience with training camp in Gothenburg and two scrimmages against Finland before heading to Toronto.

Here is what Team Sweden's roster could look like for the tournament, which will be held Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2016, in Toronto (alphabetically by position):


Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals, C -- A very good two-way forward and an extremely skilled playmaker, even without the assistance of Capitals teammate Alex Ovechkin (Russia). Backstrom, a 27-year-old who led the NHL with 60 assists last season, could miss the start of 2015-16 recovering from offseason hip surgery.

Marcus Kruger, Chicago Blackhawks, C -- Kruger is the perfect choice to center a checking line and lead Team Sweden's penalty kill. A loyal defensive role player, the 25-year-old remains a restricted free agent after winning the Stanley Cup for a second time with the Blackhawks.

Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, C -- One of the best centers in the NHL for almost a decade, Sedin likely will play with twin brother Daniel Sedin, as they do in Vancouver. Henrik, 35 on Sept. 26, has 769 points in 774 games since the start of the 2005-06 season (0.99 per game).

Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators, C -- The 22-year-old has improved every season and is competing against Backlund for the job as a bottom-six center. Zibanejad, who scored 20 goals in 80 games last season, might be a better package with a good eye for the game and solid physical play.

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators, LW -- The rising star is a great puck-handler and fearless go-to-the-goal player. A very good skater, Forsberg, 21, had 26 goals and 63 points last season, in his first full NHL season.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche, LW -- He's 22 years old, but the 2012 Calder Trophy winner is entering his fourth season as Avalanche captain, which says a good deal about him as a leader on and off the ice. A solid two-way player, he has missed one game the past two seasons.

Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, LW -- One of the best left wings in the NHL for almost a decade, Sedin, 35 on Sept. 26, has 730 points in 746 games since the start of the 2005-06 season (0.98 per game).

Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues, LW -- A very good two-way forward with an excellent eye for the game, Steen, 31, has 126 points in 142 games the past two seasons.

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings, LW -- The Red Wings captain for three seasons and one of the best two-way players in the League, he's also a capable center and first-unit power-play forward. Sidelined by a back injury for all but one game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Zetterberg, 35 on Oct. 9, rebounded with 66 points in 77 NHL games last season.

Loui Eriksson is one of Sweden's best goal-scorers. (Photo: Getty Images)

Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins, RW -- Nine seasons in the NHL makes the 30-year-old one of the veterans for Team Sweden. He's one of the most natural goal-scorers on the team and always produces in international competition (41 points in 46 games).

Carl Hagelin, Anaheim Ducks, RW -- With tremendous skating speed, Hagelin is a threat from every angle. A quality player at both ends of the ice, the 27-year-old was a top penalty-killer for the New York Rangers before being traded in June.

Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins, RW -- A productive forward with a good physical presence who's reliable in all situations, the 28-year-old had 25 goals, 51 points and a plus-12 rating last season, his first with the Penguins.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings, RW -- The 26-year-old will compete with Hagelin to be Team Sweden's fastest skater. Nyquist combines skills as a goal-scorer with those of a playmaker; he had 27 goals and 27 assists last season.


Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes -- Ekman-Larsson had 23 goals last season, and with 87 points during the past two seasons, this excellent skater is a good two-way defenseman. The 24-year-old also has missed two games in the past four seasons.

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Arguably the best Sweden-born player in the NHL last season, he was left off the roster for the 2014 Olympics, but he'll likely be an automatic choice for Team Sweden at the World Cup. Hedman, 24, had 13 assists in 26 games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was plus-11, helping the Lightning reach the Cup Final.

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks -- Despite the fact Hjalmarsson has won the Stanley Cup three times, the 28-year-old is relatively unheralded in Sweden. Hjalmarsson's defense with Erik Karlsson's offense would make a formidable pairing.

Ottawa's Erik Karlsson has won the Norris Trophy twice. (Photo: Getty Images)

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators -- He's 25 years old and has won the Norris Trophy twice, including last season, when he had 21 goals and 66 points. In two seasons since an Achilles injury, he has 140 points while playing all 164 regular-season games.

John Klingberg, Dallas Stars -- Dallas general manager Jim Nill said of Klingberg, "I think we have the next Erik Karlsson here." One of the fastest-rising Sweden-born players in the NHL, the 23-year-old had 40 points in 65 games as a rookie last season.

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings -- Kronwall, 34, is experienced (674 regular-season games, 104 playoff games) and will be a physical force alongside one of the offensive defensemen.

Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Stralman plays with Hedman in Tampa Bay and could do so for Team Sweden. The 29-year-old has played in 51 Stanley Cup Playoff games the past two seasons for the Lightning and Rangers.


Jhonas Enroth, Los Angeles Kings -- Sweden has several goaltenders in North America, but no one of the caliber of Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. The move to Los Angeles will be good for Enroth, 27, who played 118 games during six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before being traded last season to Dallas.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres -- Traded by the Ottawa Senators to the Buffalo Sabres in June, Lehner is expected to start this season as the No. 1 goalie in Buffalo. It's the first time since he was selected by the Senators in the second round (No. 46) in the 2009 NHL Draft that he's been a No. 1 NHL goalie, and that might give him the boost he needs to blossom.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers -- Lundqvist arguably is the best goaltender in the world. The 33-year-old has at least 30 wins in every full NHL season he's played. He also helped Sweden win the silver medal at the 2014 Olympics and was named to the tournament all-star team.

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