The pundits are are critiquing the latest failure of the Swedish national team, this time at the World Junior Championship, and the verdict is featuring a heavy saturation of Detroit Red Wings prospects.
Beaten 1-0 by Finland in the semifinals, Sweden will be playing Sunday against Czechia for the bronze medal.
“Sweden was simply not enough,” wrote Sanny Lindstrom of Expressen.se. “You can’t turn a blind eye to it.”
Unable to score a goal in the semifinals put an exclamation point behind the biggest Swedish concern entering the tournament, the lack of high-end skill. The Red Wings didn’t allow Raymond to play. The New Jersey Devils withheld Alexander Holtz. To make matters worse, William Eklund of the San Jose Sharks withdrew from the squad just prior to the tournament.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) August 10, 2022
Lindstrom felt the absence of these key players was most evident when Sweden came up against other top nations.
“Parts of the problem that arose when the three best offensive players were missing in the form of William Eklund, Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond,” Lindstrom wrote. “The lack of offensive edge became obvious and in the end also caused the fall of the (team).”
Nothing To Be Gained For Red Wings Raymond
It’s easy to understand why the Swedes would want to see Raymond wearing the Three Crowns in this tournament. He’d be a difference maker. Then again, it’s equally understandable why the Red Wings didn’t want Raymond to play.
— NHL Sverige (@NHLsv) August 3, 2022
He wasn’t part of the squad in the original tournament last December. That one was scuttled by a COVID-19 outbreak and rescheduled for August. Following an NHL rookie campaign in which he topped 20 goals and 50 points, played on Detroit’s top line and contended for the Calder Trophy, sending Raymond back to a junior tournament wasn’t going to increase his development as a player.
Others Didn’t Step Up
Lindstrom was critical of the forwards who were getting increasing opportunity with this big three missing for the Three Crowns. Among those feeling the heat was Red Wings draft pick Niederbach.
Players like Oskar Olausson, Isak Rosén, Fabian Lysell, Jonathan Lekkerimäki and Thedor Niederbach have not made a difference,” Lindstrom noted. He was especially critical of their incapability of generating offense as the Finns were affording the Swedes a 5-on-3 advantage in the semifinal.
“Oscar Olausson, Thedor Niederbach, Helge Grans, Emil Andrea and Jonathan Lekkerimäki/Fabian Lysell were given the chance without creating anything of value,” Lindstrom wrote. “Such a situation, in a semi-final. You actually have to take advantage of that.”
Niederbach’s account is showing 1-2-3 totals in six tournament games.
Illness Slowed Red Wings Prospect Edvinsson
Lacking a deep squad, Lindstrom felt Swedish coach Tomas Monten should’ve shortened his bench.
“It is not a star gang that Tomas Monten has at his disposal,” Lindstrom noted. “Why not play the best and hottest players more?
For instance, he is thinking that defenseman Emil Andrae and Red Wings 2021 first-round draft pick Simon Edvinsson should be playing every other shift against the Czechs and wonders why this wasn’t being done as the Swedes sought the tying goal against the Finns.
Edvinsson led the Swedish team in ice team, even though he was battling food poisoning that ended up causing him to miss one game.
Detroit, I think you're going to enjoy the Simon Edvinsson experience
— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) August 20, 2022
“Play Simon Edvinsson (even if he didn’t level up during the World Juniors) and Emil Andrae every other change,” Lindstrom suggested. “Then let Leo Lööf, (Red Wings prospect) William Wallinder and Helge Grans share the remaining ice time.”
Edvinsson, though, was critical of his own performance during the tourney.
“I have not been satisfied with how I played in any of the matches,” Edvinsson told hockeysverige.se.