The St. Louis Blues and Team Sweden got some tough news Friday with the revelation that Alexander Steen would be recovering from shoulder surgery for the next four months. For the Blues, it means that offseason training will be hampered. For Team Sweden, it means they have another spot to fill on their World Cup roster.
Steen has regularly represented Tre Kronor on the international stage, making this a loss of a versatile center and an experienced leader. Here’s a look at four players who could take his spot on Team Sweden’s World Cup roster.
Despite having a down year, Nyquist might be the most surprising omission from the forward group in the first place. He should be a front-runner to replace Steen, as a player who brings both speed and offense.
Additionally, he answered the bell for his country last month, appearing in the 2016 World Championship. It was a disappointing finish for the Swedes, who didn’t medal, but Nyquist tied tournament MVP Patrik Laine for the lead in goals with seven in eight games (two fewer games than Laine).
There’s also the matter of having some instant chemistry available if they put Nyquist on a line with his Detroit linemate Henrik Zetterberg.
Steen’s linemate in St. Louis, Berglund was a silver medalist for the national team and could bring some of the leadership and veteran presence that they’ll lose with Steen out of the lineup.
Berglund missed most of last season with an injury, and was a little touch-and-go once he returned. However, he was a big factor in the team’s limited postseason success, including notching nine points in 20 games.
If Sweden wants a center to replace Steen (they should be fine getting four centers out of their current roster, even without Steen), and they’re interested in adding some physicality to the roster, then it’s easy to see how Berglund could be their choice.
A little underrated, Zibanejad has been consistent for Ottawa over the last two seasons, posting at least 20 goals and 46 points in each campaign. Zibanejad is versatile, capable of playing wing or center and is a right-hand shot, something there is woefully little of in the Swedish forward corps.
The man behind Sweden’s 2012 golden goal at the World Junior Championship has some reputation for being a two-way player, but he was on the ice for more shot attempts against than any regular Ottawa forward last season (despite having the third most padded zone starts). If it’s a depth or shut down role that they need the replacement to play, Zibanjad might not be their guy.
The 21-year-old is a dark horse for the World Cup roster. He’s on his way to becoming a regular on Swedish international teams, but it may not be his time yet. He had a good year for Washington, but was inconsistent and isn’t as prolific of a goal-scorer as Zibanejad or Nyquist.
Additionally, he wasn’t great in the 2016 postseason, scoring one goal in 12 games. He also did little in his brief appearance with the Swedish team at the 2016 World Championship. His name should be in the mix for consideration given his talent level, but he’s a step down from the others.
Team Sweden’s World Cup Roster
Here’s the full forward group, as announced on May 27, including Steen.
F Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
F Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins
F Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
F Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
F Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
F Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
F Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues
F Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
F Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Carl Hagelin, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks
F Marcus Kruger, Chicago Blackhawks
F Carl Soderberg, Colorado Avalanche