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WJC2013: Oscar Klefbom’s surgery leaves Team Sweden bare in blueline experience

Oscar Klefbom was the Oilers' 19th overall pick in 2011

Like Canada with Ryan Murray, Sweden's national junior team will have to press on without a returning defenceman who could have been their captain.

It's been confirmed by Johan Eriksson that Edmonton Oilers first-round pick Oscar Klefbom, who helped Sweden win the world junior hockey championship early this year in Calgary, needs season-ending shoulder injury that will keep him out of the tournament. That likely leaves Sweden with exactly zero returning defenceman. Minnesota Wild prospect Jonas Brodin, the other defenceman who played last season as an 18-year-old, fractured his clavicle on Nov. 3 and there's no way he would be game-fit by Boxing Day.

It probably does not take an intimate knowledge of Sweden's U20 talent pool to know losing two potential pillars of its defence hurts big-time.

Uffe Bodin, who does know it well, mused, "Did a chance for world junior gold just disappear?"

It hurts for Klefbom, who apparently was off to a very promising start in the Swedish Elite League.

Brodin and Klefbom were each top-20 picks in 2011 draft. There is a drop-off to the next Swedish defender chosen that summer who's eligible for the tournament; Simon Karlsson of the OHL's Plymouth Whalers was taken 142nd overall by Nashville.

It would appear Hampus Lindholm, the Anaheim Ducks No. 6 overall choice who's playing in the AHL as an 18-year-old, will carry a heavy load. That is a lot to ask of a player his age who is playing in his first world junior.

Sweden is deep in holdovers up front, with Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals first-rounders Mika Zibanejad and Filip Forsberg among the seven who can play again. The defending champions are in Group A with the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia and Switzerland.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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