Rickard Rakell (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Rickard Rakell is heading to the World Cup in place of the injured Alexander Steen. Rakell, 23, had a solid sophomore campaign with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16, scoring 20 goals and 43 points in 72 games.
Rickard Rakell’s breakout season has landed the 23-year-old a spot on the Swedish roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
According to Sweden’s TV4 Sport, Rakell has been selected to replace Alexander Steen on the Swedish roster following off-season surgery that will keep the veteran winger out of the tournament.
It was made abundantly clear that Sweden would, at some point, have to choose someone to fill Steen’s spot given that the St. Louis Blues announced Steen would be forced to go under the knife to repair a shoulder injury. Steen was given a 16-week minimum recovery time. That not only puts the World Cup in question, but also Steen’s status for the start of the 2016-17 season.
“Alexander suffered the original shoulder injury in Feb. 20 in Arizona,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in a release. “He rehabbed and worked hard to get back and be a big part in the team’s run to the Conference Final.”
Rakell’s appointment to the Swedish roster will make for his first major appearance with the national team since he participated at the 2012-13 World Junior Championship. Rakell failed to register a point in six games during the tournament, but his participation at the World Cup stands to be much more productive as he continues to come into his own with the Anaheim Ducks.
This past season, Rakell netted 20 goals and 43 points while playing a steady top-six role for the Ducks. His production this past season was a marked improvement from his rookie year, and he benefited in a big way from the three-plus minutes of additional ice time he earned in his sophomore season. That’s not to mention his pairing with Corey Perry, whom Rakell scored 10 goals and 21 points while playing alongside at 5-on-5.
Maybe more important than Rakell’s scoring ability, though, is his responsibility in his own end. Steen’s absence from the Swedish roster means the club is down a solid two-way player, and while Rakell may not be a Selke Trophy calibre pivot quite yet, his ability in all three zones make him a good fit to fill in for the injured Steen.
Sweden choosing Rakell to replace Steen means there’s an additional restricted free agent set to play at the World Cup, joining the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Jacob Trouba and Nikita Kucherov. Rakell has yet to come to an agreement with the Ducks on a new deal for the 2016-17 campaign as training camp and the pre-season draw nearer.
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