Tomas Monten is looking forward to one last shot at winning a championship in his sixth attempt as Sweden’s coach at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“When we left Red Deer, Alberta, last December on Dec. 30, I thought that was it … I thought we had a good enough team to be able to win it, but we weren’t going to get that chance,” he said. Monten. “This is the last dance, the last shot for me.”
The 2022 WJC will be held August 9-20 in Edmonton. The tournament was originally scheduled for Dec. 26-Jan. 5, but was postponed to December 29 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
At the time the tournament was postponed, Sweden had two wins in two games, the highest scoring efficiency (17.65 shooting percentage) and the best goaltending save percentage (.961).
Sweden will join the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in the qualifying round in Group B. Group A will feature Canada, Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia.
Moden said he expects Sweden to remain in the hunt for its first title since 2012. It has finished second 11 times, including in 2018 after losing 3-1 to Canada in the final. Missing from the August roster after playing a big role in December are forwards William Eklund (San Jose Sharks) and Alexander Holtz (New Jersey Devils) and defensemen Mattias Havelid (Sharks) and Joel Nystrom (Carolina Hurricanes).
“I think the most important part is we have a leadership group, we have the good goaltenders and I still think we’re really solid defensively,” Moden said. “We have to be a fast team. A team that plays fast and simple and we have to create a lot of attacks from the back.”
The 44-year-old is behind Sweden’s bench at the World Juniors for the eighth consecutive year. He was an assistant to Rikard Gronborg in 2014 and 2015 before taking over in 2017. He has coached many players in the organization who are now starring in the NHL, including Holtz, Elias Peterson (Vancouver Canucks), Lucas Raymond (Detroit Red Wings), and Rasmus Dallin (Buffalo Sabres).
Monten discussed the WJC, Dahlin, and what the future holds for him with NHL.com.
Who will replace forwards Eklund and Holtz and defensemen Havelid and Nystrom?
“Anton Olsson (Nashville Predators) and Ludvig Jansson (Florida Panthers) are here on defense. Olsson has developed well since December. Jansson has been injured and missed some international events, so I think he would have been picked earlier than the fourth round (in the 2022 NHL draft) had played, so Florida made it. The top defense pairing could be Simon Edvinsson (Detroit Red Wings) at left point and Helge Grans (Los Angeles Kings) at right. You can leave them out If you have the leg or don’t have the bolt. At forward, Jonathan Lekkerimaki (Vancouver Canucks) and Liam Ohgren (Minnesota Wild) are in. Also, forward Fabian Lysell (Boston Bruins) didn’t play a game for us in In December when he got sick before the tournament, so he’s another guy we expect to contribute and score points.Our top line could consist of Daniel Ljungman (Dallas Stars) or Theod or Niederbach (Red Wings) in the center, with Oskar Olausson (Colorado Avalanche) and Lysell (Bruins)”.
How impressed are you with your goalies Jesper Wallstedt (Minnesota Wild), Calle Clang (Anaheim Ducks) and Carl Lindbom (Vegas Golden Knights)?
“I think our goaltending is the best we’ve had since I’ve been a coach. Wallstedt started both last year when Clang had some injury problems. [Clang] it’s back on track and not far behind. We have three good guys we can go to. they round the defensive corps from their position and talk a lot. They are good at playing the puck. Our team knows that if they have a good day, they can shut the door on any team we play.”
What is your development philosophy?
“I think, especially with the Swedish National Team, that because we have such a short time, I always tell myself that if I’m choosing between two players, the most important thing to ask is, ‘How am I going to use this?’ player?’ “What kind of role does he play and can he do it?” I usually call the player before we announce the team and explain the role he will play. For example, Lekkerimaki scored a few goals with Djurgardens while on the left side of the power play… she has a good monometer. if I’m going to pick him and give him a power-play spot, I’m not going to put him clean because I feel like if they’re going to be successful, they have to play where they’re used. to play”.
What can Sabers fans expect from defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in his fifth NHL season?
“Rasmus has always been skilled. He played World Juniors four years younger than most and he played in the Swedish Hockey League much younger than everyone else and then he went straight to the NHL. I’m not going to say it held him back, but he always had to deal with adversity because he’s always been given a tougher test at every level. I think that’s what made him so good and the No. 1 pick (in the 2018 NHL draft). I think he’s going to be better this year and even better next year. Just my coaching opinion, but I think you shouldn’t put too much emphasis on producing points, producing goals.I felt the same way Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning) is coming. Everyone thought, “Okay, he’s going to put up 90 points.” Yes maybe. But I think the most important thing is how many times he will help your team win. I think Rasmus has that in him. He has that leadership, competitiveness and wants to win. Being a good team player will take Rasmus and the Sabers to the next level.”
What do you hope to do after coaching your last match for Sweden at the WJC in August?
“I have incredible memories as a youth national team coach, but my next goal is to try and coach somewhere outside of Sweden if possible. I just feel like it would be a new adventure, a new challenge. I’ve had a few interviews with a few teams in Europe and some teams in North America, too. If an opportunity opens up in the US or Canada, at any level, it would be a really fun challenge. I’m open to coaching and scouting, but if I had a choice, I’d like to coach. The national team is a great job, but the only thing you miss is going to the rink every day, being on the ice, being with the players and playing games three or four times a week.”
Photos: Peter Ekholm, IIHF