The 2022 Winter Olympics are coming up with just a few months before NHL stars head to Beijing to compete for their respective countries. Hockey Canada recently announced that Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo were the first three players selected for the team, and now Sweden has announced the top three. Mika Zibanejad, Gabriel Landesog and Victor Hedman have been named to Team Sweden for the 2022 Games.
Zibanejad may not have reached the incredible heights of 2019-20 last season, but he is still a force for the Rangers and aims to become Sweden’s first center in the upcoming tournament. He scored 41 goals in just 57 games during the COVID shortened season two years ago and came back last season with 50 strong enough points in 56 games. In fact, the center is a strong position for the Swedes this time around, with Elias Pettersson, Nicklas Backstrom, Mikael Backlund and William Karlsson all strong candidates to take a place in the center.
They won’t be too bad on the wing either, starting with Landeskog, who was already a deputy captain for the nation at the 2014 Olympics when he was just 21. A born leader, he has represented Sweden at every major event, including the U18 WJC, U20 WJC, World Championship and World Cup. He took home silver as part of that 2014 group and has become a reliable NHL-level point-per-game player, complementing world-class talent and versatility in every lineup.
Few NHL fans would be surprised if Hedman were given the Sweden captaincy, but it would actually be an interesting decision given his history with the national program. He stayed with the 2014 team despite the obvious skill he showed early in his career, with players like Johnny Oduya, Jonathan Ericsson and even 35-year-old Henrik Tallinder going over him to Sochi. Due to the regular playoff success of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hedman has also gone to the World Championship only once and three times in total since 2013, instead going through to long playoffs in most seasons. It will be his first chance to represent his country at the Olympics, and this time he was an obvious choice.
Each participating country was required to nominate three players, while the full “longlist” of 55 potential names will be submitted before October 15.