We’ll file this one under things that give us hope. Two of the Leafs top overseas prospects, Pontus Holmberg, and Filip Hållander have been selected to represent Sweden in the World Hockey Championship tournament. (You know, that thing we used to watch all the time before the Leafs started giving us brief playoff appearances.)
Holmberg is coming off an incredible playoff run that saw him named MVP of the playoffs. It makes a lot of sense that he was selected given his 7 goals and 14 points in the 14 games played. His regular season was a bit more underwhelming, but still solid for a young SHL player as he had 9 goals and 23 points in 45 games.
Obviously the playoffs didn’t go as well for Hållander, as he had 3 points in 7 games, but he had a modestly better regular season with 13 goals and 24 points in 51 games. He’s also a couple years younger than Holmberg (Hållander is 20, Holmberg 22). It is also much more likely that Hallander will be the player we see in North America next year, though getting both would be a treat.
The two current Leafs prospects will play on Sweden with some former Leafs in Viktor Lööv and Pär Lindholm. I mention this largely for a sense of perspective. You can find the full Sweden roster here, along with interesting notes on who declined and who wasn’t asked. (Some shade being thrown at Andreas Johnsson).
The tournament takes place in Latvia this year, and starts on May 21st. Games will be shown on TSN. We are also still waiting for the Finnish roster to be revealed, and potentially the Leafs fondness of Finns in the past few drafts will result in a couple more players worth following in this tournament.