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Olympics look-ahead: Sweden

Ed. Note: Over the next two weeks we will be taking an early look at the major competitors for February’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and how it affects members of the Predators organization. Today we begin with Team Sweden…

Potential depth chart:

Team Sweden
Forwards
Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Loui Eriksson
Gabriel Landeskog Henrik Zetterberg Johan Franzen
Alexander Steen Nicklas Backstrom Patric Hornqvist
Marcus Johansson Patrik Berglund Carl Hagelin
Gustav Nyquist Marcus Kruger Joel Lundqvist
Niklas Persson Oscar Lindberg Jimmie Ericsson
Defense Goalie
Alexander Edler Erik Karlsson Henrik Lundqvist
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Niklas Kronwall Viktor Fasth
Victor Hedman Johnny Oduya Jhonas Enroth
Jonathan Ericsson Jonas Brodin Robin Lehner
Niklas Hjalmarsson Nicklas Grossman

Note: Depth chart above only includes player on Olympic Camp invite roster, which can be seen here.

Forwards

To say this is a talented bunch would be an understatement. They’re not as loaded as Team Canada or as electrifying as the Russians, but Sweden has a strong group of forwards that should excel on the big ice in Sochi. They are anchored by the Sedin twins and Henrik Zetterberg, complemented by the likes of Loui Eriksson, Nicklas Backstrom and Nashville’s own Patric Hornqvist. At 21 years old, Gabriel Landeskog should have a big role on the team as well.

There were some notable omissions from the camp roster. Swedish legend Daniel Alfredsson was not on the preliminary roster, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make the roster for Sochi. One would assume he wants a shot at another gold medal.

Predators forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Stalberg were also left off the camp invite roster. They could play their way into consideration for the Sochi roster with strong starts to the season. Forsberg has much more international experience than Stalberg.

It would be a surprise if Hornqvist did not make the team this winter. In fact he’s probably a lock. He was on the Olympic squad in 2010 (one goal in four games) and could be a bigger factor this time around. Hornqvist, Forsberg and Stalberg are likely the only ones in the Predators organization that could represent Sweden in Sochi.

Defensemen

They will miss Nicklas Lidstrom, but Sweden’s defense corps has good balance. Puck movers Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson should thrive on the bigger ice, while Alexander Edler and Niklas Kronwall can more than hold their own defensively. There will be a lot of competition for the final few spots on the blue-line. If they side with experience, Johnny Oduya did play for Sweden in 2010.

The omission of Tobias Enstrom from the camp roster was a surprise, but he did miss most of April with an injury; that may be why he wasn’t on the list. He’s another offensively-gifted defenseman that would do well on the bigger ice.

Goaltenders

There’s no question who will be the starter in Sochi for the Swedes – Henrik Lundqvist. The 31-year-old backstopped Sweden to a gold medal in 2006 and was stellar in 2010 despite an early exit. He has been the NHL’s best goaltender spanning over the last three seasons. He may have to carry them against stiff competition if they wish to claim gold again. Anaheim’s Viktor Fasth should be Lundqvist’s backup.

Team outlook:

The Swedes have to be considered one of the favorites for the upcoming Winter Games. They were ousted in the quarterfinals in Vancouver in 2010 and will have redemption on their minds. Lundqvist makes them as big a favorite as the Canadians or Russians. There’s also enough gold-medal experience combined with youthful exuberance to make the Swedes an extremely dangerous club.

 
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