Team Sweden announced Friday that they will be replacing the injured Alexander Steen with young Ducks forward Rickard Rakell for the 2016 World Cup.
In June, Steen had shoulder surgery that will prevent him from participating in the World Cup, scheduled to kick off in September.
“Of course it is a blow to our team that Alex can’t participate in the World Cup of Hockey because he possesses a unique set of skills on our team,” said Rikard Gronborg, head coach of Team Sweden. “However, Rickard Rakell will be a very strong offensive power on our team. What he accomplished last season in Anaheim is just a sample of what kind of player Rickard will be in the near future.”
Rakell is a great replacement for Steen, even if his selection is a little surprising. He has been selected over potential replacement options like Gustav Nyquist, Patrik Berglund, Mika Zibanejad and Alexander Burakovsky. Nyquist was seen by some as the frontrunner, capable of providing speed and offense for the Swedes. However, Rakell is more reliable in all three zones.
Berglund also may have got some consideration, particularly since international events frequently favor veteran players that the national program is familiar with and who have experience with the process of bringing a team together on next to no practice time. Berglund has previously skated for the Swedish national team at the World Junior Championship, the IIHF World Championship and at the Olympics.
The 23-year-old Rakell had something of a breakout in his second full NHL season, scoring 20 goals and 43 points for the Ducks.