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December 26, 2011
World Junior Hockey Championship
by Corey Pronman
Sweden's team is not as strong as the assortment of players the hockey power usually brings to the World Junior Championship. While the talent level is more or less the same, their most talented players are a little too young and they may struggle at a U-20 level filled with good 19-year-olds. Sweden may have to lean on their top netminder Johan Gustafsson, as their defense could struggle against the likes of Canada, Russia and the USA however I would still peg them as a top-four team.
The following are notes on some of the top NHL prospects in Team Sweden's lineup based on my own observations of the players and from discussions I've had with scouts and front office executives:
Jonas Brodin, D, Minnesota Wild: The 10th overall pick from the 2011 draft has looked quite impressive over in Sweden this season as a top-3 defender in a high level league. His hockey sense and overall game processing ability are extremely advanced; he's an above-average skater and has notable puckmoving abilities. He could certainly make the jump to the NHL next year and is Sweden's best defenseman on this team by a mile.
Max Friberg, LW, Anaheim Ducks: Friberg was a surprise addition to the Sweden Under-20 team last year, but did surprisingly well, showing versatility and some scoring touch. He was used on Sweden's top line at the Lake Placid tournament this summer between Russia, Sweden and USA's Under-20 teams, although with Pontus Aberg on the club this time around, I'm not so sure he is a lock for scoring minutes. But the chemistry he showed with Johan Larsson and Johan Sundstrom at Lake Placid will help his case.
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