World Juniors 2024

Meet the Team: Sweden's roster for the 2024 World Juniors

The host Swedes enter this year's World Juniors with heightened expectations, icing a roster that's about as good as any in the tournament on paper. Especially after back-to-back years of appearing in the bronze medal game, leaving with hardware only once.

Sweden last hosted the tournament in 2014, and they suffered a devastating loss in the gold medal game, getting stonewalled by Finnish netminder and now-NHL star Juuse Saros. It was their only loss in the tournament.

With back-to-back bronze medal appearances coming into this tournament, this should be a highly motivated team. They won't have their best U20 player, Leo Carlsson, because of the success he's enjoyed with the Anaheim Ducks. But there's a handful of other first-rounders ready to step up in his stead, and even some later-round picks who've shown they can step up in a pinch.

Let's take a look at how they'll form their roster and the players charged with winning gold on home soil.

The Roster

Here is Team Sweden's roster based on how I anticipate they'll line up.

At a glance, it looks like the priority for Swedish head coach Magnus Hävelid is depth throughout his lineup.

He's broken up the Djurgårdens trio (though, perhaps that nickname is outdated since none of them play with that team anymore), with Noah Östlund and Jonathan Lekkerimäki on the top line and Liam Öhgren on the second. Anton Wahlberg rounds out the top line, and that group should bring a little bit of everything to the table – Lekkerimäki's shot will prove especially valuable though.

That seems to be the trend throughout the rest of Sweden's top-nine, too. The second-line with Öhgren, Filip Bystedt, and Fabian Wagner has finishing skill, size, and intensity in spades; it's a group you can send over the boards when you're chasing a deficit or defending a lead alike.

Sweden's third-line has a little bit more of an offence-first bend to it, with the highly-skilled Otto Stenberg on the left flank with the talented playmaking winger Felix Unger Sörum opposite him, but David Edstrom is such a skilled two-way player that they should hold their own at either end of the ice. They also have experience together from last year's U18s where Sweden captured silver, which should prove valuable in this tournament.

It will be interesting to see how Sweden configures its blueline, especially with an imbalance between right- (five) and left-shot (two) defencemen. Only adding to the intrigue is the fact that Axel Sandin Pellikka, their clear No. 1 at the tournament, wasn't in their last practice.

So, we're left to guess, and I've done my best by trying to keep an even balance throughout the depth chart with one offensive and one defensive specialist on each pair. Elias Pettersson and Sandin Pellikka would form a formidable top-pair, capable of playing the opposition's best, pushing play, and even chipping in offensively.

A second-pair of Mattias Hävelid and Tom Willander fits the same pattern, with the added dynamic of the rangy Willander covering for the more undersized Hävelid. This pair could struggle to move the puck, but Hävelid's booming point shot and Willander's defensive instincts should pair well together.

The third pair will be more of a defensively inclined duo, with Jakob Norén and Anton Johansson bringing high-level details, defensive instincts, and puck-moving ability to the table. They could excel in something of a matchup role.

What Sweden does in goal is anyone's guess. There isn't a clearcut favourite, by any means, but if I had to guess, I'd imagine the depth chart goes Hugo Hävelid, Melker Thelin, and Kevin Reidler. There's a decent chance we see all of them at some point in this tournament.


Isac Born, C/LW, Frölunda (SHL)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

Isac Born, known to some by his nickname The Born Legacy, is an intense, speedy forward, typical of the kind of you find at the bottom of a team's lineups in international competition. He's played that role well at the SHL level, and if nothing else, it should result in a lengthy professional career in Sweden. He's not the most gifted offensively, lacking much touch as a passer and often struggling to create space for himself with the puck, but he'll create value at the bottom of Sweden's lineup with his forechecking and tenacity on puck retrievals. He'll make Sweden a more difficult team to play against.

Filip Bystedt, C, Linköping (SHL)

San Jose Sharks, 2022 NHL Draft, first round, 27th overall

Filip Bystedt took a massive step forward in his development last year and developed into a really solid SHL forward, which says nothing of his performance at last year's World Juniors. He hasn't matched that developmental leap this season, though. Bystedt isn't quite an offensive driver by himself, but if you pair him with someone who can do that legwork and build plays, like Leo Carlsson at least year's tournament, then he can find success. He's a hard player to stop at times with his combination of power, speed, and puck control. He'll be a key player for Sweden at both ends of the ice, but I'll be curious to see where he lines up when the games start.

David Edstrom, C, Frölunda (SHL)

Vegas Golden Knights, 2023 NHL Draft, first round, 32nd overall

Something about David Edstrom's game seems to always translate well to heightened levels of competition. He's an intelligent player away from the puck which makes him a constant threat to score and he has more than enough skill to get the job done. Sweden will rely on him to create offence and anchor a line at centre, and he should dominate physically with his profile.

Zeb Forsfjäll, C/LW, Skellefteå (SHL)

Seattle Kraken, 2023 NHL Draft, sixth round, 180th overall

Zeb Forsfjäll is a reliable centre, with a good skating stride and a knack for taking away options in the defensive zone. He's not that bad with the puck either. He can make plays at pace and has a good set of offensive instincts. He lacks high-end puck skills, though, and that will probably result in him taking up a depth role as Sweden's fourth-line centre and featuring on the penalty kill.

Jonathan Lekkerimäki, RW, Örebro (SHL)

Vancouver Canucks, 2022 NHL Draft, first round, 15th overall

Canucks fans have no doubt let out a sigh of relief as Jonathan Lekkerimäki has rediscovered his scoring touch this season at the SHL level. And he'll have to carry that play over for Sweden too, because if he's not scoring, he doesn't bring much else to the table. Expectations are high for Lekkerimäki at this tournament after he struggled last year, but his puck skills, a shot that can do damage from range, and his offensive instincts should make him a star for Sweden.

Liam Öhgren, LW, Färjestad (SHL)

Minnesota Wild, 2022 NHL Draft, first round, 19th overall

It's been tough sledding for Liam Öhgren in Sweden this year, as he's fought through what has been reported as a “mystery injury” that required a trip to Minnesota at the beginning of his draft-plus-two season. Since returning to Färjestad though, Öhgren has looked excellent. He's added a step as a skater and he's maintained his skill as a handler, too. Öhgren is strong, intelligent, and has scoring ability in spades. He'll be a key offensive player for Sweden at this tournament and probably wear a letter.

Noah Östlund, C, Växjö (SHL)

Buffalo Sabres, 2022 NHL Draft, first round, 16th overall

Noah Östlund has been electric at times with his new team in the SHL this fall. He's always in motion, a step ahead of his opponents, and has great supporting instincts, too. The way he reads the play is elite, and his skill level is starting to catch up. Last year, he put a lot of emphasis on improving his shot; this year, he's worked on managing space and finding openings off-puck. He's not the best distributor yet at the SHL level, but he's always been a good setup man for Sweden internationally. He'll create a lot of offence at evens and on the power play at this tournament.

Oskar Pettersson, RW, Rögle (SHL)

Ottawa Senators, 2022 NHL Draft, third round, 72nd overall

Oskar Pettersson played in a bottom-six role for Sweden at last year's tournament and he's likely to reprise his role at this one. Fitting, since he hasn't really flashed any new skills with Rögle at the SHL level this year and remains in a depth role with them. He plays a simple, straightforward winger's game, good at providing support to the puck carrier. His motor runs high and he's always in the thick of the action. He should thrive in a third-line role and maybe chip in with a goal or two at the tournament.

Rasmus Rudslätt, RW, AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

If there's any one surprise player on Sweden's World Junior roster, then it's Rasmus Rudslatt. He plays fourth-line minutes in HockeyAllsvenskan most of the time, though, so his pro experience may prove valuable. His best trait is his mobility. He's got a crossover-heavy stride and can handle the puck at speed, too. This isn't a player who's afraid to do the dirty work or go to the most hotly contested parts of the offensive zone either. While not much of a scorer, Rudslätt's wrist shot is good enough to find twine. He's not the most cerebral player, but he doesn't have to be in his role.

Otto Stenberg, LW, Frölunda (SHL)

St. Louis Blues, 2023 NHL Draft, first round, 25th overall

Otto Stenberg is a player who can make good things happen with the puck on his stick. He plays a skill-driven game, capable of playing keepaway from opponents and then finishing with his wrist shot or a dangle. He's strong for his size and strong on the puck. Stenberg dominated at the U18s last year and has the potential to be every bit as potent a scorer for Sweden at this year's tournament. For him to elevate his game to the next level, Stenberg is going to have to become more of a factor away from the puck. He's had a good year in the SHL though.

Felix Unger Sörum, RW, Leksand (SHL)

Carolina Hurricanes, 2023 NHL Draft, second round, 62nd overall

It will be fun to see what kind of genius playmaking Felix Unger Sörum can bring to this tournament already this year. He's put together a sensational season with Leksand, making smart plays with the puck, almost always finding a way to funnel possession into the slot for high-danger looks. This intelligence extends to the way that he supports the play and reads the game. He's a little underdeveloped physically, though, which could work against him in a 19-year-old's tournament.

Fabian Wagner, C/RW, Linköping (SHL)

Winnipeg Jets, 2022 NHL Draft, sixth round, 175th overall

Fabian Wagner was a surprise pick at last year's tournament, but then he exceeded all reasonable expectations for Sweden. He's a diligent bottom-six player who can adapt well to any game script. He's intelligent and a really good skater too, capable of playing with pace and matching the intensity of his opponents. He's played a lot with Bystedt before at the junior level, so I could see them being reunited at this tournament.

Anton Wahlberg, LW, Malmö (SHL)

Buffalo Sabres, 2023 NHL Draft, second round, 39th overall

Anton Wahlberg brings speed, size, puck skills, and a good motor to the table for Sweden. He plays regularly in the SHL and has put up decent numbers with Malmö this year. He's got a quick release shot that allows him to do most of his damage offensively, and the additional structure that he's playing with this year allows him to maintain a regular role when the points aren't there. He's going to get a lot of room to do damage at the World Juniors, more than in the SHL, and that'll help his game. He'll probably play a bottom-six role for Sweden, but he could go up the lineup depending on how he plays.


Mattias Hävelid, D, Linköping (SHL)

San José Sharks, 2022 NHL Draft, second round, 45th overall

Mattias Hävelid missed last year's tournament with injury, but he's ready to go for this one and should take on a decent-sized role, too. He's developed into an everyday SHL player since going to the Sharks in the 2022 NHL Draft, though in a depth role. He can struggle with a heavy forecheck at times and could stand to be more manipulative breaking the puck out. Still, Hävelid competes well, has a hell of a shot, and has solid offensive instincts. He'll be a valuable part of Sweden's power play.

Anton Johansson, D, Leksand (SHL)

Detroit Red Wings, 2022 NHL Draft, fourth round, 105th overall

Anton Johansson has taken a big step forward in his development this season. He's got a massive wingspan and uses it to defend well in space and in close quarters. Johansson constantly surveys the ice for threats away from the puck, ready to make a play as soon as he's won possession. His underlying metrics in Sweden this year are strong, and he's even helped push play offensively in the SHL. He doesn't have enough flash to be a top-pairing defenceman for Sweden, but his puck-moving, mobility, sense, and reach should make hm a great fit on the second or third pair.

Jakob Norén, D, Mora (Allsvenskan)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

This will be Jakob Norén's second World Juniors, after making Sweden's roster last year. He's more or less the same player as he was then, too. He's got strong four-way mobility and he uses it well to take away space from opponents; it also allows him to compensate for a lack of size. He's hard to beat on the rush and fares well in close quarters, too. With the puck, Norén's best quality is his ability to transition the play up ice. As a tournament veteran and one of only two left-shot defenders, he's likely to play in the top-six of their blue line.

Elias Pettersson, D, Västerås (HockeyAllsvenskan)

Vancouver Canucks, 2022 NHL Draft, third round, 80th overall

Elias Pettersson left a situation where he was fighting for bottom-pair minutes in the SHL to play over 18 minutes a game in HockeyAllsvenskan with Västerås. This new opportunity has allowed him to show off some offensive potential that we hadn't seen before either, as he's hovered around half a point a game. Pettersson's combination of size, skating, and competitive instincts will make him valuable to this team. He's a good defensive defenceman, and Sweden will rely on him to be an anchor on their blue line.

Elias Salomonsson, D, Skellefteå (SHL)

Winnipeg Jets, 2022 NHL Draft, second round, 55th overall

Elias Salomonsson has quietly had a good start to the season in the SHL. He's often lost in Axel Sandin Pellikka's shadow in Skellefteå, but he's put together solid underlying results. His skating and reach are assets that he leverages at both ends of the ice. The main concern with Salomonsson has always been decision-making, but that's improved this year in the SHL, even if there's still the occasional unforced error. It will be interesting to see what role Salomonsson plays at this tournament as a two-way defenceman who can chip in offensively and defensively.

Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skellefteå (SHL)

Detroit Red Wings, 2023 Draft, first round, 17th overall

It's nothing short of amazing that Axel Sandin Pellikka is the leading goalscorer on one of the SHL's best teams as a U19 defenceman. This, after thriving at last year's tournament as a draft-eligible defenceman. Now, he's expected to take on a top-pairing role and lead the power play. He's got a booming point shot and he pairs that with high-end mobility to make him a constant threat from the blue line. He's also developed his defensive instincts this year, too. He'll be one of the very best defencemen in this tournament.

Tom Willander, D, Boston (NCAA)

Vancouver Canucks, 2023 NHL Draft, first round, 11th overall

Tom Willander hasn't had the easiest time making the transition to North American hockey. Your time and space shrink on the smaller surface, and it's revealed some flaws in his game, particularly as a puckhandler. Still. he's a strong two-way defenceman. He makes proactive defensive reads and closes on opponents early in space. He can also handle the physical side of the game with relative ease. His four-way mobility is an asset that he leverages at both ends of the ice, and it makes him particularly effective on the breakout. He'll be a key defenceman for Sweden at this tournament, playing in every role and on both special teams units.


Hugo Hävelid, G, Djurgården (HockeyAllsvenskan)

2024 NHL Draft (re-entry)

The start of Hugo Hävelid's professional career hasn't gone according to plan. He's lost the starting job with Djurgårdens and has generally struggled this season. It's a tough environment for a young goaltender. Djurgårdens' situation being relegated to the HockeyAllsvenskan is like the Montréal Canadiens being dropped to the AHL and in this case… still managing to lose hockey games. With the national team, though, Hävelid has often excelled, even tending Sweden to U18 gold in Landshut, Germany. He is strong positionally and has some quickness to his game, and his past experience may give him the inside track on starting.

Kevin Reidler, G, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

Ottawa Senators, 2022 NHL Draft, fifth round, 151st overall

Kevin Reidler is a massive 6-foot-6 goaltender who left Sweden for the USHL to play out his draft-plus-one season. He's the rare case of a Swede at this tournament with very little international experience and none to speak of professionally either. From what I have been able to see this season he uses his size well and pairs that with good positioning. He is quite mobile athletically for his size but his mobility with his feet can look a bit awkward. The shot map stats from InStat tell a story of a weakness in close-range shots. Going by his lack of experience at this level I would guess that he will be the third goalie.

Melker Thelin, G, Björklöven (HockeyAllsvenskan)

Arizona Coyotes, 2023 NHL Draft, fifth round, 134th overall

Melker Thelin has been solid in HockeyAllsvenskan action but had a tough tournament in August with the national team. He's not yet the starter for his club gets a decent amount of ice time in a tandem setup. His positioning and quickness stand out, and he's improved with shots in close, particularly from the high slot. Sweden doesn’t have a clear-cut starter going into the tournament, but if I was to handicap that situation, I would expect Thelin to be the second-string tender.

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This article is about:
World Juniors 2024 Sweden U20 WJC-20 Isac Born Filip Bystedt David Edstrom Zeb Forsfjäll Mattias Hävelid Anton Johansson Jonathan Lekkerimäki Jakob Norén Elias Pettersson Oskar Pettersson Rasmus Rudslätt Elias Salomonsson Axel Sandin Pellikka Otto Stenberg Felix Unger Sörum Fabian Wagner Anton Wahlberg Tom Willander Liam Öhgren
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