An abundance of riches? Well, Team Sweden will certainly have some quality on the backend at this year’s WJC in Buffalo. So much so that coach Tomas Montén didn’t give one of the top prospects for next year’s draft, Brynäs’ Adam Boqvist, a shot to compete for a roster spot as he presented his preliminary roster Wednesday.
While Rasmus Dahlin, Timothy Liljegren, Erik Brännström, Linus Högberg and Jacob Moverare were no-brainers for the Swedes, Montén choose to go with other right-shooting options than Boqvist in Filip Westerlund and Gustav Lindström.
Westerlund, Arizona Coyotes second round pick last summer, has had a tough time cracking Frölunda’s roster in the SHL this season, but coach Montén liked what the 18 year-old did for the Swedes during last month’s four nations’ tournament in Russia. While Westerlund is more of a two-way defensemen, the one player that probably took Boqvist’s spot in the end was Lindström.
The nephew of former NHL rearguard Marcus Ragnarsson, who also happens to be his coach with Almtuna of Hockeyallsvenskan, is more of an offensive defender. Still, he hasn’t been prominent on the score sheet this season with only three helpers in 18 games. The Detroit Red Wings prospect is almost two years older than Adam Boqvist and it seems like his experience played a large part in Tomas Montén’s decision. Lindström could be considered “the safer option”, if you so will.
Photo: Bildbyrån/Simon Hastegård
Adam Boqvist has been lights out in the Swedish junior circuit with ten goals and 17 points in 16 games. Impressive numbers, but not enough to warrant a real shot at the SHL. He’s been dressed in six games with very limited ice-time this far. Mostly due to Brynäs’ struggles during the first half of the season after being a finalist last spring. The coaches have been reluctant to rely too much on a young, unproven defender in a time of crisis. Boqvist and his representatives have been looking for loan deal, that would give him a chance to play in Hockeyallsvenskan, but nothing has come to fruition yet.
So, did the lack of playing time against men hurt his chances for the WJC?
“Not at all”, Tomas Montén said yesterday. “We’ve chosen an identity with eight defensemen that complement each other. That’s why these eight guys were picked over Adam. We want several different types of players because that gives us the flexibility to form our defense in different ways once we’re in Buffalo.”
Essentially, what Montén is saying is that Adam Boqvist’s style reminds him too much of other players on the roster. The most obvious one would be Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Timothy Liljegren, also an offensive-minded right-handed shot who likes to join the rush and a likely candidate to run the Swedish power play.
Whether it’s the right decision or not to leave Boqvist at home remains to be seen. However, it’s hard to envision a team with too much skill on defense. Especially in a day and age where the “stay-at-home defensemen” is a dying breed, and speed, mobility and skill are the most important components in building a strong defense that can transition the puck with ease. Sweden will be rich on all of the above, but Adam Boqvist would probably have added even more offensive punch to an already strong team.