STOCKHOLM – The Swedish Ice Hockey Association announced that forward Oscar Möller was released by his NHL Los Angeles Kings team to participate in the 2009 IIHF World U20 Championship in Ottawa. The decision is a huge addition for Team Sweden, which is looking for its first U20 gold in 28 years.
The Swedish team management succeeded in convincing the Kings that playing a dominant role in the 'World Juniors' in front of sell-out crowds would be good for Möller’s development.
It was not an easy decision by the Kings' management as the Swedish rookie has six goals and seven assists in 29 games in the NHL so far. He averages 13:30 minutes of ice time per game.
Möller was one of Sweden’s top forwards in last year’s World U20 Championship, scoring three goals and two assists in six games as an underage player. Möller is expected to play on a line with Mikael Backlund and Jacob Josefsson.
Sweden, which lost the gold medal game to Canada in overtime last year, will play in Group B with Finland, Russia, Latvia and Slovakia. The opening game is against Finland on December 26.
This has been a rumor the last couple of days through Swedish newspapers. This is huge news for Sweden. They add another impact forward to the team. I believe with this addition, Sweden is the favorite in Group B. Russia is getting Nikita Filatov and Maksim Mayorov. Russia doesn't have the goaltending like Sweden has. I think that will be the difference.
You have to give credit to the Los Angeles Kings for allowing Moller to join Sweden. They have other young talent that they can call up from the Manchester Monarchs. He's getting decent ice time for a 19 year old. Maybe they just want him to get top line minutes for six games or so. It might be good for his confidence.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)