Last Year – Sweden shocked many observers by capturing the gold medal, with a 1-0 overtime win against Russia. Senators prospect Mika Zibanejad was the hero, capping the gold medal game and the first Swedish gold in the tournament since 1981 and only the second in the country’s history.
# Returnees – 6 (expected) – Jeremy Boyce Rotevall, Sebastian Collberg, Filip Forsberg, William Karlsson, Rickard Rakell, Victor Rask
Key Players – Anaheim’s 6th overall pick in 2012, Hampus Lindholm, will be a key player on the Swedish blue line that has been struck by key injuries. The first year pro has been playing for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL this season. Up front, Filip Forsberg and Victor Rask will be the key players as they try to repeat as champions.
Missing Notables – Zibanejad was not released by the Ottawa Senators to play in the tournament, choosing to keep him in Binghamton. Jonas Brodin and Oscar Klefbom were expected to be key returnees on the blue line, but injuries will force both to miss the tournament.
Watch For – C Elias Lindholm. Sweden’s top ranked skater in the upcoming NHL draft, could be a top 5 pick. He will be insulated by a number of returnees up front and likely be eased in early on, but look for him to have impact before the tournament is over.
Prediction – With Zibanejad, Brodin and Klefbom in the lineup, this would be a gold medal contending team. While they will still be competitive, and likely advance to the semi-finals, the lack of experience on defense, especially with the highly skilled forwards in Canada, Russia and the US, the Swedes will have to settle for the Bronze medal game. Unfortunately, the depth of the big 3 will keep Sweden off the podium this time around.