When William Nylander plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he plays with Auston Matthews or Nazem Kadri. At the 2017 IIHF World Championships, he doesn’t have those sorts of centres to play with. The strength of the Swedish team is on defence.
Rikard Grönborg, the head coach, revealed his top two lines, and they are an attempt to spread out the scoring talent. Nylander has the most NHL points of any forward on the team, so he has to be a top six man.
In the games leading up to the WC, Sweden has been using Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask of the Carolina Hurricanes as the base of one line. Carl Söderberg and Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avlanche were the core of the second. The third member of those lines has changed a few times as players were added to the roster.
Now Landeskog is joining the ‘Canes duo (something I’m sure the ‘Canes scouts will be watching with interest), and Nylander is joining a line of William Karlsson and Söderberg to round out the top six.
Karlsson had six goals and 25 points for the Columbus Blue Jackets this year, and Söderberg rather famously had 14 points in total:
Carl Soderberg played in 80 games this season, tallying 14 points. pic.twitter.com/ahS1GHDIro— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 26, 2017
This is not a good line. There’s no nice way to say that. It just isn’t. But it’s not a disaster either.
The Avalanche Twitter account made Söderberg into a meme with their bizarre tweeting of the details of their failure of a season while the rest of the hockey world were in the playoffs. But 14 points isn’t really representative of his ability.
In the Carlson Hockey Games, particularly in the opener against Russia, it was obvious that his line, with Landeskog and Joel Eriksson Ek were the best on the ice most of the time. He wants revenge for his bad season. The whole Swedish team wants revenge for their poor result in the World Cup.
It’s not a disaster, and it might not last beyond the opening game on Friday against Russia.
The Swedish team has hopes set on Henrik Lundqvist and Nicklas Bäckström joining the team late, and they left room on their official roster to make that possible.
If the Capitals and the Rangers win their playoff series, the team as it stands is a strong one for this tournament, and spreading the scoring around is a good idea. And maybe Eriksson Ek, who was outstanding at the WJC on a line with Alex Nylander, can get back in the top six.
I guess we know who’s in charge of scoring the goals on Nylander’s line. Good thing he likes the puck so much.