Yesterday, the International Ice Hockey Federation Disciplinary Committee ruled that Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler will have his suspension from the 2013 World Championships carried over through the first two games of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The Swedish blue liner was suspended due to a nasty knee-on-knee hit on Canadian forward Eric Staal that crumpled the latter player onto the ice in pain.
Edler’s ejection from the tournament came during the quarterfinals, yet Sweden was able to continue on and would emerge as champions. So, while this may not be good news to many fans of Team Sweden, it’s not the end of the world and could certainly be a huge opportunity for the Minnesota Wild’s Jonas Brodin. With Edler possibly out of the way–if only for two games–Sweden still has Erik Karlsson (lock), Niklas Kronwall (lock), Victor Hedman (good chance), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (good chance), Niklas Hjalmarsson (good chance) and Johnny Oduya (good chance) in addition to Brodin. Douglas Murray, Jonathan Ericsson and Henrik Tallinder are also on the invite list.
Brodin doesn’t have the offensive fire power of Karlsson (yet) or the hitting prowess of Kronwall, but he more than makes up for it with unnaturally good skating and defensive instincts. In fact, when it comes to all around defensive abilities, I’m not the only person willing to wager he’s one of the very best on that list.
The fact that Brodin was invited over 2011 4th overall pick Adam Larsson speaks volumes about how highly Sweden thinks of the 2012-13 NHL All-Rookie blue liner. That said, one would have to think that Sweden would much rather have a player that can play every game of the tournament than a guy who has to sit out the first two games. As a hockey writer and, most importantly, a fan, I just can’t see how Brodin doesn’t at least make it as a roster extra. If nothing else, Edler’s suspension certainly can’t hurt the kid’s chances.