Sweden’s roster at the 2020 World Junior Championship has its fair share of recent NHL Draft picks and prospects that NHL teams can’t wait to see come up the pipeline. The World Juniors provides the best chance for fans to see their favorite team’s top prospects perform on the world stage, and Team Sweden has a ton of premier prospects for fans of NHL teams to anticipate. Their roster is loaded with an abundance of forward talent upfront that was drafted in the 2nd round of the past two NHL Drafts and has a defensive core that is almost entirely composed of highly touted former first-round picks by NHL Clubs.
Let’s dive right into it and outline the top NHL prospects to watch on Team Sweden’s defense as we head into the second stage of the 2020 World Juniors.
Team Sweden Defense Prospects
The Swedes have the best collection of highly touted defensive prospects at the 2020 World Junior Championship. Their roster consists of five former 1st round picks on the blueline, with former 2nd round and 3rd round picks also taking defensive spots in the lineup. These prospects are the prized possessions of NHL teams. Here’s a look at the profiles of the premier Swedish defensive prospects that could be the future cornerstone of your favourite NHL team’s blueline:
Rasmus Sandin: Toronto Maple Leafs – 2018 1st round, 29th overall
The 19-year-old is already in his second season playing pro hockey with the Toronto Marlies and has stepped right into a leadership role with Team Sweden. Sandin holds a pivotal role on a stacked Swedish defense core and is looking to improve on his four points in five games he posted in last year’s World Junior Championship, and avoid another heartbreaking early exit from the elimination rounds. Sandin has proved to have an offensive upside with the Marlies in the AHL, posting 12 points in 19 games so far this season. He should be a player that can be relied upon in all situations and eat a lot of minutes for Team Sweden as one of the premier prospects at the 2020 World Juniors. Giving Leafs fans a great chance to get a look at one of the potential future cornerstones of their defensive core.
Philip Broberg: Edmonton Oilers – 2019 1st round, 8th overall
The top-10 pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers has had a ton of hype around him coming into the 2020 World Juniors. Oilers fans are excited to see the prospect who was selected with confidence by the teams newly hired GM Ken Holland over the likes of some highly touted forwards; such as the Americans Trevor Zegras and Cole Caufield. The 18-year-old has so far been used in a sheltered role by the Swedes and is a likely candidate to come back in a more primary role at the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton, being that Broberg is one of the few players on the Swedish blueline that is still eligible to come back in next years tournament. While he has been used in limited quantities and has made some mistakes that should be expected of a younger player playing against some of the top U-20 players in the world; Broberg’s talent still appears to be oozing out the seams and his skating and puck-moving abilities that he’s showcased at this World Juniors make him a prospect that Edmonton Oilers fans should be very excited to watch join their organization.
Victor Soderstrom: Arizona Coyotes – 2019 1st round, 11th overall
At first, it was in question whether the recent 1st round pick of the Arizona Coyotes would even dress for Team Sweden’s blueline. However, when the Chicago Blackhawks announced they would not be loaning their defensive prospect Adam Boqvist for the World Junior tournament, it solidified Soderstrom’s spot in the lineup. Since then, Soderstrom has excelled on the first pairing alongside Rasmus Sandin, and the 18-year-old has made his puck-moving abilities known in every game. General Manager John Chayka and Arizona Coyotes fans have to be ecstatic to watch their most recent first-round pick take on some of the best prospects in the world while in a prominent role on a stacked Swedish defensive core.
Tobias Bjornfot: L.A Kings – 2019 1st round, 22nd overall
Many were surprised to see Bjornfot make the Los Angeles Kings opening day roster, but the 18-year-old has excelled in the pro rankings under the Kings organization. Since joining the Ontario Reign of the AHL after a three-game stint in the NHL, Bjornfot has put up 9 points in just 23 games to start his pro career. Bjornfot has always been known as a steady, smooth-skating, defensive defenceman. However, he is quickly beginning to shine as an elite-level puck-mover during this year’s World Juniors. He has been a defencemen Team Sweden has been able to rely upon consistently early into tournament play.
Nils Lundqvist: New York Rangers – 2018 first-round, 29th overall
Lundqvist has put up impressive numbers with Luleå HF of the SHL this season, posting 17 points in 24 games as a young phenom on the blueline. His offense has transferred for Team Sweden early into the World Juniors, and Rangers fans are taking a look at a prospect that should take on a pivotal role when he eventually joins the pro-ranks. Whether that be competing for a roster spot with the big club or joining New York’s AHL affiliate, Rangers fans are about to see a lot of Nils Lundqvist. As one of the returning players to Team Sweden’s blueline, Lundqvist has been looked upon as a leader for the squad and will play a key role in helping the Swedes avoid a devastating early exit of the elimination round of this year’s World Junior tournament.
Adam Ginning: Philadelphia Flyers – 2018 2nd round, 50th overall
The Flyers prospect has been named as captain of Team Sweden for the 2020 World Junior Championship, and his leadership skills will be put to the test as he’s dawned with leading his team deep into the elimination rounds of the tournament. His goal will be to avoid the same fate of an early exit that devasted Swedish fans during last year’s holiday classic. It’s not Ginning’s first time representing Team Sweden as the captain on the international stage, as he also captained Sweden’s U-18 team in 2018, leading the team to a Bronze medal finish. Ginning is a solid prospect in Philadelphia’s pipeline, and this is an excellent time for Flyers fans to get a look at how their 2018 2nd round pick can handle the pressure of leading Team Sweden past more than just a successful round-robin at the World Juniors.
Mattias Norlinder: Montreal Canadiens – 2019 3rd round, 64th overall
Montreal has to be ecstatic that the defensive prospect they took with their 3rd round pick at last year’s draft was able to crack a World Junior defensive core as stacked as Team Sweden’s, as the group consists of five first-round picks in the last two NHL Drafts. The tournament will be Norlinder’s first time representing Sweden on the international stage, and he is a likely candidate to be primed to take on a leadership role with the team next year in the 2021 World Juniors Championship. For now, the less Canadiens fans hear about Norlinder throughout the tournament should be for the better. With as much talent that the Swedes are able to ice-up, Norlinder should be expected to take on a sheltered role, getting ready to learn the ropes and be a pivotal player for Team Sweden in 2021. None-the-less this is a great opportunity for Montreal fans to watch a lower-tiered prospect that they probably wouldn’t get the chance to watch anywhere else or have seen play before.
Next Up: We’ll take a look at Team Sweden’s top forward NHL prospects at the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Photo Credit – Edmonton Oilers (Twitter)