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A look at the potential team Sweden hockey roster for the 2014 Olympics
Sweden has a strong track record of international hockey success, most recently claiming Olympic gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. In 2010, however, the Swedes were eliminated fairly early by an unexpectedly competitive Slovakian team. In 2014 Team Sweden will no doubt be hungry to avenge their poor placement from 2010 and should be one of the main teams to watch. To help them try to win gold once again, here is a look at the players who could be suiting up in 2014 for Sweden.
Henrik Sedin(notes) - Currently fresh off of leading the NHL in scoring and also named the most valuable player of the NHL, Henrik Sedin needs to be on the team. His insane ability to complete passes and make plays is something that all teams want, and his leadership makes him a leading candidate for team captain.
Daniel Sedin(notes) - If Daniel Sedin had been healthy for the entire 2009-10 NHL season he could very well be getting the praise that his brother has been. It would be stupid to take only one Sedin when both are available, as their chemistry is unmatched in the sport.
Nicklas Backstrom(notes) - He is still trying to find his game somewhat, but Nicklas Backstrom is young enough that he can only be getting better. Backstrom brings excellent passing skills that would work perfectly with a goal scoring winger.
Henrik Zetterberg(notes) - There is always the X-factor that the somewhat small Zetterberg's game diminishes over the next few years, but if he can even play at half the quality he currently does then he is a natural for Team Sweden. Zetterberg is an excellent two way play, can score goals, create plays and have the versatility to play either wing or at center.
Johan Franzen(notes) - Again, injuries might change things before 2014 but Johan Franzen has the talent to make a difference for Team Sweden if healthy. Solid goal scoring wingers should never be underestimated, and Franzen's ability to switch to center makes him a flexible addition.
Linus Omark(notes) - In his short time at the NHL level, Linus Omark has shown that he the soft hands needed to be a force. At the moment Omark doesn't always make the best decisions with the puck, though given a few more years of experience that should improve.
Marcus Johansson(notes) - The 20-year-old Washington Capitals rookie has been decent so far, and should only improve while playing with quality team mates in the U. S. capitol. Given a few more years of experience Johansson should be Olympic caliber, though his role will likely be as a depth player.
Magnus Paajarvi(notes) - With so many members of the 2010 Swedish Olympic team on the wrong side of 35 already, there is a very good chance that in 2014 the team will have to rely on the younger stars. Paajarvi is another young gun who should be reaching the necessary level of play just in time for Sochi.
Patric Hornqvist(notes) - Playing for the Nashville Predators can almost make a player (not named Shea Weber(notes)) become invisible. It is a shame, because Hornqvist scored 30 goals as a sophomore in 2009-10 and looks to finish 2010-11 with 25. Patric Hornqvist can score, and is young enough that those numbers could go even higher.
Niclas Bergfors(notes) - This is really a tough pick to make, and is the most expendable of the players listed here. Bergfors has shown flashes of brilliance in the past, but has yet to tie together a complete game. If he can do that in the next few years then he could make Team Sweden.
Mattias Tedenby(notes) - Hidden by the terrible season the New Jersey Devils have been having is Mattias Tedenby. Tedenby has actually been having a fairly solid rookie campaign. With the Devils problems seemingly sorted out, expect rapid improvements from yet another young Swede.
Patrik Berglund(notes) - Patrik Berglund is another player who needs to tie everything together in order to get the call. Berglund, when his game is on, is a world class player, but as his 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons shown, sometimes Berglund doesn't always fire on all cylinders. A risk to be replaced by a surging player in 2014.
Erik Karlsson(notes) - If Sweden is forced to go with a youth movement, then Erik Karlsson is the first blue liner that comes to mind. Karlsson has been the best player for the Senators this season and holds the team lead in points; no easy feat on a team that includes Daniel Alfredsson(notes), Jason Spezza(notes) and Sergei Gonchar(notes).
Tobias Enstrom(notes) - Dustin Byfuglien(notes) has gotten most of the attention for his breakout season with the Atlanta Thrashers, but Tobias Enstrom has actually been the better defenseman of the two. Enstrom is key to the success of Sweden's powerplay.
Victor Hedman(notes) - Victor Hedman hasn't taken to the NHL like John Tavares(notes) or Matt Duchene(notes), the players selected one spot before and after him respectively in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but he has quietly built a reputation as a solid defenseman for Tampa Bay. A breakout season could happen soon, especially playing in the offensive system of Guy Boucher.
Niklas Kronwall(notes) - The Detroit Red Wings are the blue print for hockey success, so you can never go wrong loading up on their players. With Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) likely to retire sometime before 2014, Kronwall becomes the best available defenseman from the Red Wings.
Jonathan Ericsson(notes) - Another Red Wings, Ericsson has slowly worked his way into the NHL and has shown incremental improvements each season. With both Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski(notes) retiring soon, Jonathan Ericsson could find his role expand for one of the NHL's top teams. If he proves he can play big minutes Jonathan Ericsson will become a no-brainer pick.
Douglas Murray(notes) - When assembling all-star teams like those that play at the Olympics it is easy to overlook stay-at-home defensemen like Douglas Murray. Murray is a big body with some passing skill and can play big minutes when needed.
Niklas Hjalmarsson(notes) - In the Chicago Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup victory, Hjalmarsson was excellent. Since then he has regressed a little bit, but he still holds so much potential that it could be a aberration. That gets him onto this team as the "seventh defenseman," though his role could be more important if his play improves.
Henrik Lundqvist(notes) - Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goalies playing today, plain and simple, and he is just entering his prime now. Unless something totally unexpected happens, Lundqvist should be a lock for the starter job.
Anders Lindback(notes) - When an injury forced Pekka Rinne(notes) to the sidelines early in the 2010-11 NHL season, Anders Lindback stepped up and actually performed very well despite having no NHL experience. At only 22 he has a lot of room to grow and should at least earn a seat on the bench.
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