As always, Team Canada will get the most hype this year, but a team that seems to be the next favorite to win gold in Sochi is Sweden. At first look the team may seem like some washed up former all-stars, but when the team is dismantled and analyzed for what it truly is, you find yourself a star-studded lineup. Let’s take a look at all the positions.
Henrik Sedin: One of the best dishmasters in the NHL; he will be the lead maestro in creating plays for this team. An advantage he has is that he will be playing with his twin.
Nicklas Backstrom: Perhaps one of the more underrated centers in the league; at the halfway point of the season he is on pace for 92 points. His assist numbers are triple his scoring numbers making him a fantastic playmaker.
Alex Steen (Can play LW): Took the league by storm this year, showing his phenomenal scoring ability. On pace for 48 goals in the season; he is one of the many snipers on this team.
Patrik Berglund (Can play LW): He will probably center Alex Steen, given their chemistry. Great at taking faceoffs and moving the puck. Ideal depth player for an Olympic team.
Marcus Kruger: At the age of 23, this young gun already has 2 Stanley Cups under his belt, and is still continuing to improve. His growth speed is undoubtedly faster than usual because he is playing for the powerhouse Blackhawks. Probably won’t get too much playing time if any during the Olympics, but the experience will surely contribute in his growth.
The Left Wings:
Daniel Sedin: Scores the goals off his brother’s assists. He is yet another of the top marksmen on this team.
Loui Eriksson: Might not perform like usual due to the recent concussion that he suffered, but will be dressed for the Olympics. His goal scoring is a great addition.
Henrik Zetterberg: The Powerhorse was named Captain of this team. Given his well-rounded play style (ability to both score and produce) and experience, he is probably the most deserving of the C. He can potentially lead this team to the finals.
Gabriel Landeskog: The 2012 Rookie of the Year, and the youngest NHL team captain in history, will be an interesting addition to this more experienced team. Can he use this as a learning experience?
Carl Hagelin: One of the better defensive forwards in the league. He’s also ideal at finding the back of the net. Might not get too much playing time.
The Right Wings:
Johan Franzen: Injuries may appear to keep him behind, but his chemistry with captain Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Kronwall, and Jonathan Eriksson will make up for it.
Jakob Silfverberg: This guy is highly regarded as one of the top scorers in the future of the NHL. Not only does he have spot-on accuracy, but he is incredibly fast and can play like a power forward. Interesting to see how he performs in a team full of veterans.
Daniel Alfredsson: In his final Olympic games, can he push himself to win gold? He’s putting on a spectacular season so far in the NHL, on pace for 60 points, which is great given his age and playing time.
Jimmie Ericsson: The only non-NHL player on this team. Don’t be mistaken; this does not mean he isn’t a good player. He is actually a very versatile two-way forward and has the advantage of playing alongside his brother Jonathan Ericsson. However, he will most likely get minimal minutes.
Erik Karlsson: This Norris Trophy winner is inarguably the star of the blue-line on this team. The reason why he will have an impact is self-explanatory.
Niklas Kronwall: Yet another Red Wings player on this team, and he is notorious for his seismic hits that flat out make players leave on stretchers. Great at shutting down the opposition.
Jonathan Ericsson: Double the advantage for him because he has double the chemistry due to the fact that he is playing with a bunch of his teammates from Detroit and his brother Jimmie. Very agile and moves the puck quick.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: Regarded to be a future Norris Trophy winner, this young defender is perhaps one of the best stick handling blue liners in the NHL today.
Niklas Hjalmarsson: With 2 rings, he is ready to add a gold medal to his collection of championships. I think he will fit right in with the star studded atmosphere, just like he does in Chicago. Great depth on the blue line.
Alexander Edler: One of the top shut down defenders in the NHL. He can also put the puck in the back of the net.
Johnny Oduya: Back when he was just starting out his tenure with the NHL, he wasn’t expected to be the tough defensive defenceman that he is today. Recently won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.
Henrik Tallinder: Although he will not get too much ice time, his veteran presence will make this team’s experience rating beyond 100%.
Henrik Lundqvist: Will start most if not all the games. He is one of the most solid goalies in the hockey world and will stand tall in all the games that he will play in the Olympics.
Jonas Gustavsson: Has proven to be a more than decent back-up and sometimes starter within the last couple of years. Some may call him streaky, because he goes on good run of shutouts and high save percentages and suddenly drops into a bad stretch of games, but more often than not, he isn’t anything but solid.
Jhonas Enroth: The shortest goalie in the NHL will probably not get any starts or even ice time unless they are ahead by 5 and it is the last minute, they might throw him in for the experience it gives him. He’s still developing as a back-up and is projected to be Buffalo’s future starting goalie do to his athletic style of play.
Personal Opinion: I believe this team has a star studded lineup and will probably be the oldest and most experienced team in the Olympics. The Olympics are much like the Playoffs, where the veterans strive for greatness. I predict this team to make a run for Gold but come up short to Team Canada, and win Silver.
Writer’s Note: If you have time check out my raps off my mixtape #beentrill which drops February 2nd. If you like it please spread the word! http://www.soundcloud.com/itsmobtime