With the NHL season underway, anticipation for Olympic hockey grows every day. NHL players will suit up for their countries in the Olympics for the first time since 2014. This series will dive deeper into my projected roster and why I chose certain players and left others out.
Team Sweden is projected to have a stacked Olympic hockey roster in Beijing. Victor Hedman, Mika Zibanejad and Gabriel Landeskog have already been named to Team Sweden. They makeup the core of my projected Swedish team.
Here’s my projected Team Sweden roster for the Beijing Olympics:
Team Sweden Projected Olympic Roster
|Gabriel Landeskog||Elias Pettersson||William Nylander|
|Filip Forsberg||Mika Zibanejad||Elias Lindholm|
|Andre Burakovsky||Niklas Backstrom||Rickard Rakell|
|Joel Eriksson Ek||William Karlsson||Viktor Arvidsson|
|Mikael Backlund||Jesper Bratt|
|Victor Hedman||John Klingberg||Jacob Markstrom|
|Mattias Ekholm||Erik Karlsson||Robin Lehner|
|Jonas Brodin||Adam Larsson||Linus Ullmark|
|Hampus Lindholm||Rasmus Dahlin|
Gabriel Landeskog – Elias Pettersson – William Nylander
You will be hard pressed to find one of the major five teams that don’t possess an elite first line. Landeskog is a do-it-all type of winger and a player you love to have on your team. The Avalanche captain, who just recently signed a long-term deal, figures to be one of the team captains. He’s a scorer and playmaker who’s willingness to get to the net and play physical complements William Nylander’s perimeter style of play. Although Nylander is best suited as the line’s top shooter, Elias Pettersson doesn’t trail far behind in that category. Pettersson has already grown into one of the league’s best playmakers thanks to his skill, vision, and elite level IQ. Pettersson also provides versatility in his ability to play at center and wing.
Filip Forsberg – Mika Zibanejad – Elias Lindholm
Sweden lucks out in having one of the best combinations of left and right-shot players. Although it’s not a significant factor, it’s definitely a nice caveat to have. Filip Forsberg is still one of the best shooters off the wing, making this Sweden’s best pure goal scoring line. Everyone knows Mika Zibanejad’s scoring potential when he plays to the best of his ability. It wasn’t long ago that the Ranger was scoring at the best goal-per-game ratio in the NHL. Lastly, Lindholm, who can also play the center position, bestows a more playmaking skill set than his shooting counter parts. Having two centers on this line will give Sweden an added boost in the faceoff dot and in their own zone as well.
— NHL (@NHL) October 23, 2021
Andre Burakovsky – Niklas Backstrom – Richard Rikell
Put two wingers with high-end speed and skill alongside one of the best playmakers in the history of the NHL and what do you get? A lethal third-line for team Sweden in the 2022 Olympics. Burakovsky has had career years since joining the Avalanche in 2019 and is only continuing to improve his NHL game. If he continues to use his big frame effectively, Burakovsky can turn into a solid top-nine winger with top-six upside. His counterpart at the right wing position, meanwhile, is a guy who may not be in every roster projection. The fact Rakell plays for the Ducks severely hampers the talk about his talent. Rakell brings a admirable work-ethic paired with an efficient two-way game. Backstrom, of course, will use his elite vision and IQ to find his talented wingers on the ice and bolster the third-line for Team Sweden.
Joel Eriksson Ek – William Karlsson – Victor Arvidsson
Arvidsson’s ability to forecheck effectively and play a pesky game paired with two solid NHL centers should create a matchup nightmare for teams. Eriksson Ek, one of the NHL’s best two-way players is accompanied by the great pace of his linemates. Combining these qualities and this line should open up the ice for themselves quite a bit.
Mikael Backlund, Jesper Bratt
Already gifted with a plentiful of centers, why not add one more for good measure? Backlund, 32 year-old NHL veteran can jump into action and play a smart two-way game, mainly at the center position. Jesper Bratt on the other hand thrusts a bit of youthful exuberance and speed into the lineup at the wing position as needed.
Victor Hedman – John Klingberg
Sweden has always been able to boast one of the best bluelines at international tournaments, whether on the junior or world stage. Although they’ll be bringing a rather old blueline to this tournament it doesn’t mean that they lack talent. Both Hedman and Klingberg are lanky defenseman with great IQ making them especially hard to play against. Hedman is probably the better two-way defenseman, while Klingberg’s expertise falls inside the other team’s blue. Nevertheless, this could be one of the best pairings at the Olympics if it comes to fruition.
Mattias Ekholm- Erik Karlsson
Yes, Erik Karlsson has been pretty bad since coming to the Sharks, especially in recent years. The Sharks defense as a whole has also been bad, however. Leaning on Karlsson to become an especially solid defensemen in his own zone is not a recipe for expertise. That is why pairing him with one of the league’s best stay-at-home defenseman will allow Karlsson to use his offensive talents to the best of his abilities. If everything goes well, this could be quite a dangerous second pairing.
Jonas Brodin – Adam Larsson
It is by no means a flashy third pairing. But when your’re going up against teams that are rolling four lines deep, you need smart and reliable defenseman. That’s exactly what this pairing is for. Unlike the first two pairs, this pairing could be a bit hard-pressed to contribute offensively. But this pairing is made to play a more defenseman shutdown style that can also contribute on the PK. Both players have size that can help them block shots and contribute physically.
Hampus Lindholm – Rasmus Dahlin
If you’re looking for more offensive upside without having to sacrifice much if any size, look no further than Lindholm and Dahlin. Dahlin cause easily slot into one of the defensive pairings although many would like to see him establish himself as an elite NHL defender first. Lindholm, on the other hand, could easily slot in at the four-to-six spot.
Markstrom is having an excellent season in Calgary, posting a .943 save percentage. His achilles heel throughout his career, however, has been consistency. It’s still impossible to ignore his five shutouts in 14 games this season. The ex-Canuck profiles as Sweden’s number one goalie, but he could be replaced by Lehner if he fails to provide solid enough netminding.
The new number one in Vegas, Lehner could in-fact be the number one for Sweden too. He’s just a shade younger than Markstrom but also a bit smaller as well. He was great as the starter in Chicago, posting a .918 save percentage. While he didn’t receive the same starting opportunities in Vegas to start, he slotted as their new number one this season. Lehner’s no stranger to being the number one, so I wouldn’t count him out for Sweden.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) September 5, 2020
Essentially splitting the starts with Jeremy Swayman with the Bruins so far, Ullmark is a breakout candidate this year after a few tough years with the Sabres. It’s unlikely he jumps ahead of either Lehner or Markstrom in the pecking order should injuries not come to fruition. Nevertheless, he is still worthy of a third-string spot.
PP1: Elias Pettersson, William Nylander, Gabriel Landeskog, Nicklas Backstrom, Victor Hedman
PP2: Mika Zibanejad, Filip Forsberg, Elias Lindholm, Viktor Arvidsson, Erik Karlsson
Victor Olofsson, Jakob Silfverberg, Lucas Raymond, Gustav Nyquist, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Rasmus Andersson, Adrian Kempe, Nils Hoglander, Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist, Calle Jarnkrok, Oscar Klefbom
The Swedes have arguably the best center depth of any country going into the tournament. So much depth in fact that a portion of their wingers are also centers. Having such depth at such a vital position should give Sweden an added boost. Furthermore, because of this depth of forwards, there were plenty talented NHLers who were unable to make the list.
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) November 16, 2021
Although the Swedes have featured better bluelines in the past, they will go to Beijing with a defense competent enough to compete for gold. The have the NHL’s best defensemen in Hedman, which is already a good starting point.