After a disappointing 2010 Olympics, in which the finished in fifth place, Team Sweden is back and looking to win a medal. It is also the first time since 1994 that the team will not include former Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom, as he retired following the 2011-12 season. Here is the full 25 man roster, which includes 5 Red Wings:
Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrik Berglund, Loui Eriksson, Johan Franzen, Carl Hagelin, Marcus Kruger, Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Sedin, Herik Sedin, Jakob Silfverberg, Alex Steen, Henrik Zetterberg, and Jimmie Ericsson from the SHL.
Of these players, 13 have never been to the Olympics. With this roster, Sweden has decided to go in a completely different direction than they have in the past by choosing young players over many of the veteran Swedes in the NHL. Here are the players I believe were snubbed:
Victor Hedman, Tobias Enstrom, and Carl Gunarsson
Sweden has been plagued by injuries to star players like Loui Eriksson, and by shoddy play from their starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Eriksson has only played 24 games this year, scoring only 5 goals and 14 points in that time. Marcus Johansson has played in all 42 games this year, skating on the top line in Washington with fellow Swede Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Johansson is speedy and has been consistent this year, and already has chemistry with Backstrom. For me, it makes more sense to bring him to Sochi than it does to bring Eriksson, even though Eriksson has been a lock for team Sweden for years. Jakob Silfverberg is another selection I disagree with. Silfverberg has also struggled with injury, and when he is in the lineup for the Anaheim Ducks he hasn’t been impressive, scoring only 5 goals and 11 points in the 21 games he’s suited up for. Patric Hornqvist is 27 years old and played for Sweden in the last Olympics, at which time Jakob Silfverberg had yet to skate on a North American rink. Hornqvist has been a consistent 20-goal scorer for the Nashville Predators throughout his career. Carl Soderberg is only in his second NHL season, but I still believe he beats out Marcus Kruger for the fourth-line center role. Soderberg plays for the Boston Bruins, where he has been a penalty kill specialist and one of the teams best two-way forwards this year.
Victor Hedman was the third overall pick in the 2009 entry draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, he’s been playing top pairing minutes and he is now starting to put up points as well as being sound in his own end. Hedman is 3rd in scoring among swedish defensemen and I believe that he is just as good as if not better than Henrik Tallinder. Tobias Enstrom was also on the 2010 Olympic roster and has continued to develop his game offensively, so much so that I belive he would be a better roster choice than Jonny Odouya. Carl Gunarsson plays on the Toronto Maple Leaf’s top defensive pairing with Dion Phaneuf, and has become an excellent two-way defender for them over the past few years. I don’t see how Jonathan Ericsson is any better than him.
Robin Lehner is a young backup goaltender for the Ottawa Senators and has the potential to one day be an elite goalie in this league. Lehner is 1st in Save % amongst Swedish Goalies in the league, with a SV% of .922%.He is 4th in Goals Against Average with a GAA of 2.68. Jonas Enroth’s GAA is 2.60. I believe that Lehner already is a better goalie the Enroth, and having him play in the Olympics now will give him some experience for the upcoming Olympics, when he will eventually take over as Sweden’s starting goalie.