This brings us to our last division for Beijing that only has two teams qualified for the moment, Sweden and Finland, with the last two set to be named at the end of August. Being on a bit of Gold Medal dry spell at the Olympics, Sweden comes into 2022 with a lot of talent and for the first time, a little bit of sandpaper. Sweden’s last Gold came in 2006 and their most recent success was in 2014 when they won a Silver medal in Soochi. With that said, here is my projected 2022 Swedish roster.
1st Line: Nobody scored goals at a higher rate in 2019 than Mika who really came into his own this season establishing himself as an elite talent in the NHL. He will be forced to the wing to play along side Backstrom who is one of the best passers in the game, consistently putting up good numbers in Washington. Forsberg has been one of the best young goal scorers in the game since entering the league and he will still be in his prime come 2022.
2nd Line: There seems to be a consistent theme of very fast and highly skilled second lines in all of these projected rosters and this one is no different. Pettersson could arguably be the best Swedish center in the league by 2022, Lindholm came into his own like Mika in a massive way with Calgary and William Nylander (who was born in Canada) is a highly skilled goal scoring winger that perfectly compliments the playmaking style of his line mates.
3rd Line: This line is fun, it has been a long time since a Swedish line had this much grit and I love it. Landeskog is one of my favourite Captains in the NHL and perfectly leads by example which will be monumental for a shortened tournament. Silfverberg and Rakell are two of the bright spots down in Anaheim and they can both play a defensively responsible game while still being able to score.
4th Line: Another line that blends speed with some physicality, William Karlsson’s point totals have more or less normalized but his effectiveness on the ice in every facet of the game remains. Kempe and Burakovsky are both players that have payed their dues in the NHL accepting bottom six roles and earning their current top six roles. I think both will continue to get better and will have some sort of role on the Penalty Kill as well.
13th (& 14th): Victor Olofsson turned some heads this year coming into the NHL as a seventh round rookie and was putting up Calder type numbers before injuries derailed his season. To round things out we have Oskar Lindblom who under normal circumstances would have probably made this roster however, if you are not aware he contracted a rare form of bone cancer. Last December, Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of cancer that grows in the bones or in the tissue around the bones. Before the diagnosis, Lindblom had already hit the double digit goal mark to go with 18 points in 30 games in the 2019-20 season. Hopefully with an extended off-season he will be able to pick back up where he left off. #OskarStrong
1st Pair: No analysis necessary.
2nd Pair: This is a perfect example of how this roster is projecting for 2022. Rasmus Dahlin is already showing signs of being an exceptional player in only his second season in the league. Klingberg has been a steal in the NHL since his rookie season and will still be in his twenties in 2022 (twenty-nine to be exact).
3rd Pair: OEL has been a top defender in the league and a pillar on the Coyotes back end for almost an entire decade. Klefbom is finally starting to come into his own and is putting up some good offensive numbers in recent years, especially on the Power Play. It will be hard to knock both guys on our next pairing out of the top six but if Klefbom continues to put up good offensive numbers with McDavid and Draisaitl he should find himself on this team.
7th (& 8th): Neither Edler nor Ekholm will be going down without a fight and both have a very real chance to make this team. Edler took home Silver in 2014 and is a key cog on the Canucks where as Ekholm is part of what can easily be considered one of the defense cores in the NHL. Between the two I would take Edler but knowing you have Ekholm as your first replacement is as good an insurance piece as you will find.
No position better exemplifies the changing of the guard better than the goalie position, mainly because Henrik Lunqvist is still around but he will be 39 and I am not convinced he will even be the backup. Playing a little bit of third fiddle in New York, the King may find himself in a similar situation in 2022 as Markstrom and Lehner have both entered their prime. With Markstrom it seems like year after year we are discussing some sort of sneaky stat to show just how good he actually was the previous season. With the Canucks rebuild finally starting to pay dividends, Markstrom should be the main benefactor after being peppered with shots for a few years. Lehner’s career has been very up and down statistically, but after overcoming some recent battles of his own, Lehner has begun to show the elite skill level that many predicted early on.
Now for, you guessed it, the snubs.
THE OBVIOUS SNUBS
Forward: Gustav Nyquist, Viktor Arvidsson, Alexander Steen, Loui Eriksson, Mikael Backlund
Defense: Jonas Brodin, Hampus Lindholm, Erik Gustafsson, Adam Larsson, Anton Stralman
Most of these forwards find their name on this list due to age with the exception of Arvidsson, who definitely has an edge to his game that could force his way into a 4th line role. The defense on the other hand, just happen to have been born in a country where they can fill multiple rosters with top NHL level defense.
THE YOUNG UP AND COMING TALENT
Forward: Jesper Bratt, Joel Eriksson Ek, Andreas Johnsson, Alexander Wennberg, Alexander Holtz, Lucas Raymond, Samuel Fagemo
Defense: Erik Brannstrom, Rasmus Sandin, Rasmus Andersson, Nils Lundkvist, Philip Broberg, Timothy Liljegren, Johannes Kinnvall
Goaltender: Joel Lassinantti, Christoffer Rifalk, Jesper Wallstedt
Bratt, Eriksson Ek, Johnsson and Wennberg can compete for a lesser role on the depth chart, but they will each need to show noticeable improvement by 2022. Samuel Fagemo is a name that we should all get familiar with, the Kings 2019 second round pick’s coming out party was last year’s World Junior Championships where he put up 8 goals and 13 points in 7 games.
Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond are two of the most highly sought after prospects in the upcoming 2020 draft and I have long had my eye on Holtz specifically. Both will be elite level forwards in the NHL, Raymond plays more of a 200 foot game with great vision and ability to anticipate the play to be two steps ahead of everyone. Holtz on the other hand is straight line true scoring sniper, he has one of, if not the best release in the 2020 draft class. If in a few months time the Canadiens find themselves picking at 9 and either of these guys slip, Habs fans will be very happy for years to come. I selfishly want to see Holtz paired with Caufield.
Yet again on defense there is a long list of talent, Brannstrom and Sandin are on the cusp of making the NHL full time while Andersson already has a couple seasons under his belt in Calgary. Nils Lundkvist, the New York Rangers prospect (that’s right, another one) had a monstrous season for Lulea in the SHL putting up double digit goals (11) and 31 points to finish 7th in league scoring among defenseman as a 19 year old. Continuing with young prospects, Edmonton’s first round pick from last year, Philip Broberg, Maple Leafs Timothy Liljegren and newly signed Flames defenseman, Johannes Kinnvall are long shots but could all compete for a spot.
In nets, it will be interesting to see if either Joel Lassinantti or Christoffer Rifalk get any sort of look from the NHL between now and Beijing but these are two names to keep an eye on if Sweden decides to look more local for talent. Then there is 17 years old Jesper Wallstedt, considered to be the next great Swedish goalie who is set to join Lulea next season to replace Lassinantti (going to the KHL). This is an Everest type mountain to overcome, but he is 6’3 215lbs and some NHL scouts believe that he is a better prospect than Askarov or Knight.
As we progress in this Olympic series my excitement for 2022 continues to grow! Sweden will yet again be another powerhouse that should compete for Gold and at least be in the conversation for a medal. This team is built to play a low scoring 1-0 game but it can also run and gun with the best of them if the score gets up to a 5-4 game. One way or the other we are all guaranteed to hear the classic all Swedish no Finnish joke at least once in 2022.