Vancouver Canucks World Cup Preview: Team Sweden

Mar 2, 2016; Tarrytown, NY, USA; New York Rangers and Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist speaks during a press conference for the upcoming 2016 World Cup of Hockey at MSG Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2016; Tarrytown, NY, USA; New York Rangers and Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist speaks during a press conference for the upcoming 2016 World Cup of Hockey at MSG Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

Team Sweden will feature four Vancouver Canucks players at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, three of which could build the team’s top line.

Vancouver Canucks fans are extremely excited about the reunion of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson. Thanks to the World Cup of Hockey, we will see them play together even earlier than we normally would have. But that’s not all Team Sweden has to offer.

Per the official program of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Sweden’s GM Tommy Boustedt believes he and his staff have assembled what is “probably the strongest team [they] have ever put together.” But is it enough to win the tournament?

Sweden had the chance to win it all at the 2014 Sochi Olympics but lost against a stacked Canadian squad. Now is their time for redemption.

Projected Lineup


Daniel Sedin — Henrik Sedin — Loui Eriksson
Filip Forsberg — Nicklas Backstrom — Patrick Hornqvist
Gabriel Landeskog — Carl Soderberg — Rickard Rakell 
Jakob Silfverberg — Marcus Kruger — Carl Hagelin
Mikael Backlund

Sweden’s forward group is highlighted by the all-Canuck top line. Well, from a Canucks point of view, anyway. The Forsberg-Backstrom-Hornqvist trio could end up being the official first line just as well.

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Looking at the lineup, Sweden definitely has some talented players that can score goals. Nicklas Backstrom had 20 goals and 70 points in 75 games last season, Filip Forsberg finished with 33 goals and 64 in 82 games and Eriksson was the third-best Swede with 30 goals and 63 points in 80 games. But compared to Team Canada, the Swedes are clearly lacking depth — especially after captain Henrik Zetterberg dropped out.

If the Sedins and Eriksson can recover their 2013 chemistry, where they combined for 22 points in four games at the IIHF World Championship, Sweden can go places with this roster. But all three are beyond the 30-year mark and should only decline from this point on. Sweden will definitely need support from the back end to keep up with the rest.


Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Erik Karlsson
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Niklas Hjalmarsson — Hampus Lindholm
Mattias Ekholm

Speaking of the back end, Sweden’s defensive group easily ranks in the top three among WCH teams. Canada and the USA are the only teams who boast a similarly impressive group. Not many teams have a group of defensemen that can dominate a tournament, but the Swedes sure do.

Erik Karlsson is perhaps the best defenseman in the NHL. In 2015-16, he set new career highs in assists and points, as he led the league with 66 assists and ranked fifth in points with 82 in 82 games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson seems like the perfect player to complement Karlsson. While both Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson stand out as offensive catalysts, they are also more than solid defensively.

Behind that, Sweden has the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top pairing with Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. The duo used the Stanley Cup Playoffs to show they are one of the most reliable pairs in the league. Sweden’s defense was completed with three-time Stanley Cup champion Niklas Hjalmarsson, Anaheim Ducks youngster Hampus Lindholm and Nashville Predator Mattias Ekholm.

This ‘D’ is good enough to win the tournament.


Henrik Lundqvist
Jacob Markstrom
Jhonas Enroth

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Even if the defense struggles, which certainly shouldn’t be expected, Team Sweden has every chance to make a deep run, perhaps all the way to the finals. Henrik Lundqvist is the kind of goalie who can carry his team to a championship, and nobody really knows why 11 dominant years haven’t been enough to earn him a Vezina Trophy. But there is a reason for his nickname “King Henrik”.

Lundqvist’s backup is Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, who just recently emerged as a future NHL starter. If everything works out as planned, he might even steal the Canucks starting job from Ryan Miller this year. However, Markstrom still has little NHL experience, and he has never played in an Olympic tournament.

Last but not least, Team Sweden added Jhonas Enroth to their roster. A second-round pick in 2006, Enroth never quite turned into an NHL starter, and he only appeared in 16 games for the Los Angeles Kings in 2015-16. This season, he will don a maple leaf on his jersey in Toronto — his fourth club in just two years. As long as Lundqvist and Markstrom hold up, Sweden will be fine, though.

The Schedule

Exhibition Games

Team Finland
Thursday, September 8; Noon ET/7 p.m. local — Hartwall Arena, Helsinki

Team Finland
Saturday, September 10; Noon ET/6 p.m. local — Scandinavium; Gothenburg

Team Europe
Wednesday, September 14; 7 p.m. ET — Verizon Center; Washington, DC

World Cup

Team Russia
Sunday, September 18; 3 p.m. ET

Team Finland
Tuesday, September 20; 3 p.m. ET

Team North America
Wednesday, September 21; 3 p.m. ET


Game 1 against Team Russia seems like a tough opener. But that’s because all games at the WCH will be tough, and this game might actually be a good chance for Sweden to snag a win. Russia boasts an outstanding offensive group that includes Washington Capitals stars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, former Detroit Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk, 2016 rookie of the year Artemi Planarian and St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. Their big weakness is the defense, which seems like the perfect setup for Team Sweden.
Prediction: 3-2 W

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Against Finland, the Swedes could improve their record to 2-0 and book their ticket to the semi finals. Or, they could make it 1-1 and keep their dreams alive, depending on the outcome of Game 1. Finland dominated the 2016 IIHF tournaments, winning gold in the under-18, world junior, and world championships. Their World Cup of Hockey roster, however, is relatively weak. Finland’s best skater is probably Aleksander Barkov — the roster lacks star power.
Prediction: 3-1 W

Although games between Sweden and Finland are always fun, Game 3 has the potential to be the most exciting one. Who wins when experience meets pure speed?
Prediction: 2-1 L

Overall Prediction: 3rd