Canucks have three prospects in Sweden’s world youth camp

Jonathan Myrenberg, Lucas Forsell and Elias Pettersson are all on the roster for Sweden’s junior world evaluation camp.

The Vancouver Canucks’ 2022 prospect development camp felt a bit like a Team Sweden camp. It’s only fair, then, that Team Sweden’s junior world evaluation camp feels a bit like a Canucks camp.

“Maybe it’s better to have the camp in Sweden next time,” defenseman Filip Johansson joked at the Canucks’ camp.

There were ten Swedish prospects at the Canucks’ development camp, along with prominent Swedish staff members Mikael Sameulsson and Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Three of those prospects were also invited to Sweden’s junior world camp: Jonathan Myrenberg, Lucas Forsell and Elias Pettersson, the defender, not the forward.

Jonathan Lekkerimäki, the Canucks’ first-round pick in the 2022 draft, isn’t on the Sweden camp roster, but that’s no cause for alarm. In fact, it is a good sign. This is an evaluation field, after all, and there is obviously nothing to evaluate for Lekkerimäki: he will be in the team.

In fact, Lekkerimäki will be on Sweden’s roster for the postponed World Juniors 2022, which takes place August 9-20 in Edmonton, Alberta.

Myrenberg, Forsell and Pettersson have a tougher road ahead of them to make Team Sweden for the 2023 World Junior Championships, which take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick beginning December 26. There are 46 players in the judging camp, all vying for limited spots on the roster.

Still, it’s a good sign that Myrenberg, Forsell and Pettersson have been invited to participate.

Myrenberg: “He always keeps his head up.”

Myrenberg was a fifth-round pick in 2021 and is arguably the best right-handed defenseman in the Canucks’ system, though that perhaps speaks more to the lack of depth in the prospect pool at that position than Myrenberg’s ability. That said, Myrenberg has quietly developed into a player with legitimate NHL potential, with some deft offensive chops to go along with a strong defensive game.

With his size, smooth skating and alert play, Myrenberg was a standout player in the team’s development camp.

“He always keeps his head up, he’s definitely good,” Samuelsson said of Myrenberg to Chris Faber of the Canucks Army. “I’m impressed with him, I knew he saw the game well and I think it’s because he keeps his head up a lot.”

Myrenberg spent a little time in the SHL last season, but next season he will head to Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second-tier men’s league. That will allow him to have more time on the ice and play in more situations, which will help his development.

“I already talked to him about it and he doesn’t see it as a drop-down menu,” Samuelsson said. “She’s thinking about his career and how to be the best he can be in three or four years. That’s going to be his focus.”

Playing a bigger role in Allsvenskan could help him be more easily noticed by Swedish talent evaluators for the Junior Worlds.

Forsell: “I’ve worked really hard on my strength.”

It’s great to see a seventh round pick like Forsell being invited to the Sweden camp. As a September birthday, Forsell was one of the youngest players in the 2021 draft and taking a chance on such a young player with more track to develop appears to be paying off for the Canucks.

Forsell had a decent season in the J20 Nationell, Sweden’s top youth league, scoring 34 points from 35 games. Most impressively, he spent 30 games for Färjestad in the SHL, Sweden’s top professional league. He may have only had 6 points, but playing 30 SHL games at 18 is a positive sign.

Forsell even had some power play time and held his own with even force at 52.61% corsi.

At Canucks camp, Forsell did everything at a fast pace and was very excited to be in Vancouver, calling the Canucks jersey “the best colors in the NHL.” He was also realistic about where he needs to improve the most.

“I’m not the biggest guy, I’m not the strongest guy,” Forsell said. “So working on my strength, like puck protection along the boards, is a big part of professional hockey. That is something we work on every day in Färjestad. I have worked very hard on my strength and I feel like it has paid off.”

Forsell said his goal for the upcoming season was to improve his consistency from match to match so that he could be a reliable player every day for Färjestad and work his way into one of the top three lines. He can now also set his sights on reaching Sweden at the Junior World Cup.

Pettersson: “It’s difficult to play against him.”

As a third-round pick, it’s perhaps a little less surprising that Pettersson has been invited to the Swedish judging camp. The smooth-skating defenseman has already been on Sweden’s team at the U-18 World Championships and was already on Sweden’s world youth radar before the Canucks selected him in this most recent draft.

Pettersson is a two-way defender, but his strengths lean more towards the defensive side of the ice, which is what led him to play 17 games in the SHL with Örebro in his draft season.

When asked about the strengths of his game, Pettersson was quick to point out his skating, but his friend at camp, Lekkerimäki, had a different opinion.

“He’s a great defender,” Lekkerimäki said. “It’s hard to play against him.”

When he talks to Pettersson, he’s so smooth that it belies the heavy physical play he brings on the defensive end. He is much more assertive with opposing forwards invading his space than he is with members of the media who do the same at a scrum.

“I’m trying to be tough and play tough,” Pettersson said humbly. “I think that’s one of my strengths in the game as well.”

“I think when I was playing in the SHL last year with the big guys, my coach told me I had to be tough,” he added. “I learned a lot last year [about how to] Be tough and I will defend myself.”

When asked if he will play in the SHL next season, Pettersson started off humble.

“I don’t know. I’ll see,” Pettersson said, then smiled and said confidently: “Yes, I’m going to play in Örebro next year.”

Jacob Truscott has also been invited to Team USA camp.

There’s another Canucks prospect at a World Junior tryout camp: Jacob Truscott with Team USA.

That’s good to see from the 2020 fifth-round pick. Although he’s already 20 years old and ineligible for the 2023 World Juniors in December, there’s a chance he’ll make the squad for the postponed 2022 World Juniors in August.

Truscott had a solid if unspectacular sophomore season at the University of Michigan, putting up 17 points in 40 games. Along the way, he evidently added more physical elements to his game, which he aptly demonstrated in the Canucks’ development camp.

That’s a welcome development from Truscott, who had some question marks on the defensive end of his game when he was drafted. Adding more physicality to his defense definitely makes him more projectable as a prospect.

Truscott is likely to play a much bigger role with Michigan as a junior and is aiming for a breakout season. At that point, it will be interesting to see if the Canucks look to sign him to an entry-level deal before his senior year.

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