CMJ: The last chance tournament with Sweden for Tomas Monten

Tomas Monten is eager to get to work for one last shot at winning gold at his sixth attempt as Sweden coach at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship (WJC).

« When we left Red Deer, Alta., on Dec. 30, I thought we had a good enough team to win, but we didn’t get a chance to prove it, » Monten said. This is the last dance, my last chance. »

WJC 2022 will be held August 9-20 in Edmonton. The tournament was originally scheduled for December 26 to January 5, but was postponed to December 29 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

By the time the tournament was postponed, Sweden had two wins in two games and had the best shooting percentage (17.65) and best save percentage (.961).

Sweden will face the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in the preliminary round in Group B. Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia will make up Group A.

Monten expects Sweden to be in contention for their first championship since 2012. They have finished second 11 times, including in 2018 when they lost 3-1 to Canada in the final. Among the important players who will be absent after playing an important role in December are forwards William Eklund (San Jose Sharks) and Alexander Holtz (New Jersey Devils) as well as defensemen Mattias Havelid (Sharks) and Joel Nystrom (Carolina Hurricanes).

“The most important thing is that we have a group of leaders, we have good goaltenders, and I continue to think that we are solid in defense, analyzed Monten. We have to be a fast team, a team that plays with speed and in a simple way, and we have to create a lot of attack from our territory. »

The 44-year-old is behind the bench for Sweden at the World Juniors for the eighth consecutive year. He acted as an assistant to Rikard Gronborg in 2014 and 2015, before taking the reins of the team in 2017. He managed several players at the CMJ who are now in the NHL, including Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks), Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings) and Rasmus Dahlin (Buffalo Sabers).

Monten discussed CMJ, Dahlin and what the future holds with

Which players will replace Eklund, Holtz, Havelid and Nystrom?

“Anton Olsson (Nashville Predators) and Ludvig Jansson (Florida Panthers) are here in our defensive squad. Olsson has developed well since December. Jansson got hurt and he missed a few international events so I think he could have been drafted earlier than the fourth round (in the 2022 NHL Draft) if he had played more so Florida hit a good hit. The first defensive pair could be Simon Edvinsson (Red Wings) on the left and Helge Grans (Los Angeles Kings) on the right. They can be on the ice for offensive and defensive missions. On offense, Jonathan Lekkerimaki (Canucks) and Liam Ohgren (Minnesota Wild) will be there. There’s also forward Fabian Lysell (Boston Bruins), who didn’t play with us in December because he was ill before the tournament, so we expect him to contribute and sign up. on the score sheet. Our front line could be Daniel Ljungman (Dallas Stars) or Theodor Niederbach (Red Wings) at center, with Oskar Olausson (Colorado Avalanche) and Lysell. »

How impressed are you with your goaltenders Jesper Wallstedt (Wild), Calle Clang (Anaheim Ducks) and Carl Lindbom (Vegas Golden Knights)?

« I think they’re the best goalkeepers we’ve had in my coaching. Wallstedt got both starts last year as Clang struggled with injuries. But Clang is healthy now and not far behind. We have three solid goalkeepers we can turn to. They complement the defenders well and they communicate a lot with them. They are good at playing the puck. Our team knows that if they have a good game, they can close the door against any team. »

What is your philosophy on player development?

“Since we have little time with the Swedish national team, if I have to choose between two players, I always ask myself first and foremost how I am going to use this player. What role does it play and can it accomplish what I want? Usually, I call the player before we reveal the team and I explain to him the role he will play. For example, Lekkerimaki scored goals with Djurgardens playing on the left side on the power play. He has a good one-timer shot. If I’m going to use him on the power play, I’m not going to put him in front of the net, because if our players want to be successful, they have to play where they are used to. »

What can Sabers fans expect from Dahlin in his fifth NHL season?

“Rasmus has always been talented. He entered the World Juniors four years younger than most players, in addition to having played in the Swedish Elite League (SHL) being much younger than the others and having made the jump directly in the NHL. I’m not saying it held back his development, but he always had to face adversity because he was always tested at every level. That’s what made him such a good player and the first overall pick (in the 2018 draft). I think he will be better this year, and even better next season. That’s my coaching opinion, but you shouldn’t pay too much attention to points and goals. I had the same feeling about Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning). Everyone thought he was going to amass 90 points per season. Maybe. But I think the most important thing is the number of times he will help your team win. I think Rasmus has the same qualities. He has the leadership, the competitive spirit and he wants to win. Being a good team player is going to take Rasmus and the Sabers to the next level. »

What do you hope to achieve after coaching your last match for Sweden at the WJC in August?

“I have amazing memories from my years as a coach with the national junior team, but my next goal is to coach somewhere outside of Sweden, if possible. I think it would be a new adventure, a new challenge. I interviewed teams in Europe and North America. If there are opportunities in the United States or Canada, whatever the caliber, it would be a very pleasant challenge. I’m open to directing or scouting, but if I had to choose, I’d like to be a coach. The national team is a great job, but what you miss is going to the arena every day, being on the ice, being around the players and playing games three or four times a week . »

Pictures : Peter Ekholm, International Ice Hockey Federation

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