This Swedish World Junior team could really be nicknamed the Swedish Red Wings, with five prospects coming from Detroit. They have an interesting mix of players, as they feature six first round draft picks, five undrafted players, and six returners from last year’s bronze medal team. They should, as usual, be in the mix for a medal. Team Sweden also has a 47 game round robin win streak, so don’t be surprised if they go undefeated in the round robin.
When it comes to goaltenders, last year’s starter Hugo Alnefelt (Tampa Bay, 71st overall), who finished the 2020 tournament with a 2.12 goals against average and a .921 save percentage, will lead the way and should perform well. He should be followed by top 2021 prospect Jesper Wallstedt.
As is per usual for a Swedish national team, their defense is their strength. Their back end features three first round picks from last year’s team: Tobias Bjornfot (Los Angeles Kings, 12th overall), Philip Broberg (Edmonton Oilers, 8th overall), and Victor Soderstrom (Arizona Coyotes, 11th overall). Albert Johansson (Detroit Red Wings, 60th overall), should round out an excellent top four.
Forward wise, Team Sweden is a bit top heavy. Unfortunately, potential top center Karl Henriksson has been held out of the tournament due to COVID-19 protocols, but they still have plenty of adept players. Their best forwards should be 2020 top ten picks Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings, 4th overall) and Alexander Holtz (New Jersey Devils, 7th overall), who both return from last year’s team. So far, fellow Detroit pick Theodore Niederbach (51st overall) has been centering a line between the two at practice. Also look out for Emil Heinenman (Florida Panthers, 43rd overall) and Simon Holmstrom (New York Islanders, 23rd overall) to provide supplementary offense.
Overall, Sweden is a team that should be dominating defensively but could be too dependent on a few forwards for offense. Look for them to advance far, but if they draw a deeper team like Canada or the United States, they could run into trouble. However, they’re still a team to bet on when it comes to advancing to the medal round.
Team Sweden opens the tournament against the Czech Republic on December 26th at 2:00 p.m. (EST).