Victor Hedman


Fate works in cruel ways. For the 2008 Swedish World Junior squad, it meant improbable victory after victory, only to end on a bad bounce by Canadian checking forward Matt Halischuk. However, at the 2009 World Junior Championships, Sweden has the talent to make destiny all theirs.

 


One of the most high-powered squads put forth by any country in recent years, Tre Kronor benefits from extremely strong 2007, 2008 and especially 2009 draft classes.

Mikael Backlund, C

Drafted by: Calgary, 1/24 2007
2008 WJC Statline:

Backlund's career has been a roller coaster. A knee injury almost cost him a first round spot in '07, for example, but his star exploded with a dominant 2008 World Juniors. In between those events have been middling performances at the Swedish second tier level.

However, none of those things matter at the WJC. While his ability to dominate against adults is still developing, Backlund has proven himself to be heads and shoulders above his peers. With Patrik Berglund too old for the event, Backlund is Sweden's biggest weapon.


Magnus Svenson-Paajarvi, C
/LW
Drafted by: 2009 eligible
2008 WJC Statline: 6 GP, 1-1-2, +1

Giving Backlund a challenge for top dog will be 2009-eligible Magnus Paajarvi. A brilliant offensive talent oft compared to Peter Forsberg, the 6'1, 198 lbs 16 year-old debuted for Timra in the SEL at just 16, earning a full-time spot. While he posted just three points in limited minutes, the fact he was even in the league at all speaks to his incredible ability.

At the 2008 WJC, while Paajarvi didn't score a lot, he seemed to get comfortable as the tourney progressed. Kopitar-esque in his ability to use his size and hands to protect the puck, Paajarvi made dangerous drives to the net that his linemates often couldn't finish. With Sweden's overall talent level arguably higher than last year, watch for Paajarvi to explode.


Mattias Tedenby, LW
Drafted by:
New Jersey, 1/24 2008
2008 WJC Statline: DNP

It's still a mystery to me how one of the best skaters ever in the last few years with one of the most impressive all-around toolkits fell to 24th on draft day. Okay, Mattias Tedenby is a mite at 5'10, 176 lbs, but he's still a lad. You just don't ignore this kind of talent.

While critics can deride his pro readiness, the World Juniors are the perfect stage for the gifted forward to display his ample talents. Watch for the Tre Kronor rook to score several key goals and agitate opponents, as he did at the 2008 U18s. In six games, Tedenby posted 4-4-8 and a whopping 35 PIM.


Oscar Moller, RW
Drafted by: Los Angeles, 2/52 2007
2008 WJC Statline: 6 GP, 3-2-5, +3

Perhaps Sweden's most reliable bet, WHL forward Oscar Moller is already a fan favorite in LA despite never having played a game. A spirited, diligent backchecker who also happens to own a crackling shot, Moller posted 30 goals as a North American rookie in 2007-08 for Chilliwack. Moller would continue his great play with three markers at the 2008 World Juniors.

One of just a few natural RWs available to Sweden, Moller will see huge amounts of ice time in every situation.


Anton Gustafsson, C
Drafted by: Washington, 1/21 2008
2008 WJC Statline: DNP

Balance is crucial on a champion, and Team Sweden will get it in the form of towering two-way pivot Anton Gustafsson. Drafted by the Caps in June, the spawn of former NHLer Bengt Gustafsson has many of daddy's traits: great intelligence, a big frame, and top-notch playmaking ability.

Left off both the Swedish U20 and U18 teams last year, the WJC will be a big adjustment. But if Gustafsson sticks to his style of game, you won't notice him- if at all.


Jacob Josefsson, C
Drafted by: 2009 Eligible
2008 WJC Statline: DNP

Here's a name you'll want to remember for next summer. Despite a fantastic 2007-08 campaign in the Swedish J20 ranks that saw the 16 year-old Josefsson notch 14 goals and 31 points in just 35 games, the offensive dynamo put on a show at the recent USA/Finland/Sweden U20 tune-up.

In an interesting twist, Josefsson actually had better numbers during the U18s (3 GP, 4-1-5) than he did during the U17s (4 GP, 4-1-5). It will be a tough fight, but the high-finesse center could be a star in the making at the 2009 WJC. Josefsson compares favorably to Oilers star Ales Hemsky.


Victor Hedman, D

Drafted by: 2009 Eligible
2008 WJC Statline: 6 GP, 0-1-1, +5

My, how things can change in one year. John Tavares was once the undisputed number one pick for '09, a status he'd held since 2007 and even earlier. Since then, he's seen his OHL production hit career-lows, his weaknesses further exposed, and his endurance slowly frey as the demands upon his talent take their toll. In that same period of time Victor Hedman has... grown an inch more and continued to make scouts drool at the prospect of a 6'6 defenseman with NHL-forward speed.

If Sweden has a major force, it'll be Hedman. Now proven as a defensive rock during the 2008 WJC, 2009 will be his opportunity to take a few risks to create offense. With the forwards he has up front, it could be special to watch.


Erik Karlsson, D

Drafted by: Ottawa, 1/15 2008
2008 WJC Statline: DNP

One of the biggest surprises of the 2008 Draft wasn't for hundreds of DobberHockey draft guide readers. In it, we projected the smooth-skating Erik Karlsson would be taken 13th overall. A Niedermayer-esque rearguard in terms of thinking, skills and skating ability, Karlsson will get his shot at the WJC after being named Best Defenseman at the 2008 U18s.


Jacob Markstrom, G

Drafted by: Florida, 2/31 2008
2008 WJC Statline: DNP

With the Tomas Vokoun experiment not working as hoped, the Florida Panthers got a steal on draft day in highly athletic keeper Jacob Markstrom. A sudden superstar during the SEL relegation round, Markstrom's challenge in 2008-09 will be consistency. That will come into play during the WJCs, where Markstrom could- and really should- be among the top two in the world. If he plays to his potential, the Swedes will be as hard to score on as they will be hard to stop from scoring.

 

Conclusion:

There were few teams that could skate with Sweden in 2008. While the roster faces a massive makeover thanks to several graduations, this version of Tre Kronor is powers better than last year's in terms of pure talent. They will be a contender for Gold, and I predict they'll edge out the team we'll preview next week. 


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