The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner for prospects fans as the 2017 World Junior Hockey Championship gets underway in less than two weeks in the Montreal and Toronto. Sweden is one country that is always a medal threat and this year looks to be no exception.
Looking at the preliminary roster there is a host of players plying their trade in the top league in Sweden. Here’s a look at how some of the expected top performers have fared so far this season.
The first of Philadelphia’s two goalie selections in the third round of the 2015 draft, Sandstrom is expected to assume number one goalie duties for Tre Kroner. Based on his play so far it’s easy to see why. Patrolling the crease for Brynas 11 times in tandem with David Rautio, Sandstrom has compiled a 9-2-0 record, a 2.00 GAA and .919% save percentage. The latter two are among the leagues leaders. The Flyers suddenly have an enviable goaltender pipeline, something they haven’t had in a long time, and Sandstrom may be the best of the bunch.
Sandstrom showing off his flexibility
As one of two returning defensemen for Sweden, Larsson should anchor the back end and be leaned on to be matched up against other team’s top players. Since returning from North America, Larsson has been slightly behind his 2015-16 offensive production but some of the underlying numbers have been an improvement. He’s registered three assists in the 13 games to date and is averaging just over 17 minutes per game in ice time. He is up about 30 seconds per game over last year and is getting the puck on net nearly 0.5 more times per game than his 2015-16 rate. Don’t count on Larsson to contribute to your hits category in the future as he has yet to be credited for a hit. Larsson should be one of Sweden’s top performers.
Assuming Dahlin isn’t one of the final cuts, he’ll be among the most closely watched players at this years tournament. He’s among the top few 2018 draft prospects and is already drawing comparisons to Erik Karlsson thanks to his elite level puck skills. Just check out the clips below. Another reason for the comparison is the fact that they are both products of the Frolunda system. In 12 games, Dahlin has a goal and an assist. The goal is an historic one as Dahlin is the first player born in the 2000s to score a goal in the SHL. At just 16 he’ll be the youngest player participating in the tournament and it will be interesting to see how he does against the top junior talent in the world.
Bara en påminnelse.pic.twitter.com/Ks2k4TjEKN— Johan Rylander (@rylanderjohan) November 30, 2016
2018 Top Swedish Prospect Rasmus Dahlin scores his first SHL goal. pic.twitter.com/PjZvkl5Co7— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) November 12, 2016
Joel Eriksson Ek
Up front, Eriksson Ek is returning and will be looked upon to lead the offensive attack for the Blue and Gold. Starting the season in the AHL, Eriksson Ek quickly received a call up to the big club and started off his NHL career strong with five points in nine games. But rather than keep him around for the whole year, Wild management made the decision to send Eriksson Ek back home for further development, much to the delight of Farjestad. Head coach Tommy Samuelsson has wasted no time easing Eriksson Ek into the lineup, feeding him 18 and a half minutes per game and Joel has responded with a pair of goals and an assist.
The 2017 WJHC tournament has the potential to serve as Grundstrom’s coming out party. The Leafs are absolutely stacked with forward prospects so his name gets lost in the shuffle. However, if he can keep his current level of play going for the rest of the year, he’s someone that will have Leafs fans talking. In the 27 games he’s suited up for this season, Grundstrom has two assists and a league leading 11 goals, a pretty amazing feat for someone that just turned 19. He’s looking like a fantastic pick by Lamoriello and company, snagging him late in the second round.
Grundstrom with a power move to the front of the net for a goal
Carl Grundstrom scored one of his two goals yesterday with his go-to move. Loves to go from behind the net to crease. Watch: pic.twitter.com/Pdv0ZN6r6G— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) November 25, 2016
One last point that isn’t WJHC related, this is your monthly reminder that Oskar Lindblom is awesome. Check out this dangle and dish.
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