Team Sweden has an enviable blend of youth and experience as it tries to duplicate its gold-medal performance from the 2006 Games in Turin. They may not be the clear-cut favorite, but they'll be in the mix to win it all.
If all the names look familiar, it’s because they are. Team Sweden’s roster for the 2014 Olympics features just one player, Jimmie Ericsson, who isn’t in the NHL this season. And the 33-year-old winger has a close connection to The Show; his brother Jonathan patrols the blueline for Detroit.
There are a few surprises on Tre Kronor, a club fortified with speed, skill and decent depth.
In goal, Henrik Lundqvist
isn’t having his best NHL season, but would you best against him coming up large in a short tournament? He’ll get support from the Jonas (Jhonas?) brothers, Gustvasson
. They’re capable NHL backups. So, too, is Ottawa’s Robin Lehner
, who has a .922 save percentage for the Sens this season. You could have made a case for his inclusion, but he’s been streaky of late.
On defense, the decisions to leave off Tampa's Victor Hedman
and Minnesota's Jonas Brodin
are eyebrow-raisers, though one or both could be added as injury replacements. Regardless, the defense is blessed with smarts and skill, and ranks a close second to Canada in terms of depth. The aforementioned Ericsson is joined by Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson
, a potential future Norris winner in Oliver Ekman-Larsson
(assuming he's healthy), shutdown kingpin Niklas Hjalmarsson
, along with capable blueliners in Niklas Kronwall
, Henrik Tallinder
, Johnny Oduya
and Alex Edler
(the latter of whom will miss the first two games due to suspension). If there is a question about this group, it’s their overall toughness, but that factor is mitigated by its speed and the diminished need for brawn on the international ice surface. It will also be interesting to see how they fare without legend Nicklas Lidstrom, their undisputed leader the past decade.
Up front, the high-end talent is enviable, led by Daniel
and Henrik Sedin
, Henrik Zetterberg
and Nicklas Backstrom
. Alex Steen
(who's still recovering from a concussion) is having a career year, complementary players such as Loui Eriksson
(also nursing an injury), Marcus Krueger
and Carl Hagelin
will fill important roles, while youngsters Jakob Silfverberg
and Gabriel Landeskog
add fresh legs and a dynamic element. And, of course, 41-year-old Daniel Alfredsson
, who’s appearing in his fifth Olympics, brings the veteran leadership and respect all championship teams require.
This is a roster capable of winning it all in Sochi and one that will be expected to by its demanding fans.