Chicago Blackhawks forward Marcus Kruger doesn’t want his summer to begin just yet as he wants to play for Sweden at the 2017 World Championship, the center said during a media scrum Saturday at United Center.
Kruger, 26, scored five goals and 17 points in 70 games this season for Chicago. He’s no stranger to representing Sweden at the international level. The 6-foot, 181-pound center won four medals at the senior level, including silver twice at the 2011 World Championship and 2014 Olympic Games. He also took home bronze at the 2010 World Junior Championship and at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He did not record a point in four games for Sweden at the World Cup.
Kruger could be joined by teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson, who said he’s considering playing.
Hjalmarsson, 29, had five goals and 18 points in 73 games this season. He also played on Sweden’s 2014 Olympic team and 2016 World Cup squad. It’d be an interesting move for Hjalmarsson to play because his wife gave birth to their second son earlier this month. Hjalmarsson playing could point to trend though with NHL players wanting to play at the World Championship to represent their country as the NHL doesn’t plan to have its players participate in the 2018 Games.
Chicago prospect Gustav Forsling also figures to be in the mix for Sweden’s blue line. Forsling split his season between Chicago and the American Hockey League in Rockford. The 20-year-old had five points in 38 games for Chicago and eight points in 30 games in the AHL. Forsling, a left-handed shot, last played for Sweden at the 2015 World Junior Championship, where he had eight points as Sweden took fourth.
The World Championships will be played from May 5 to 21 in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France. Group A games will be played at Lanxess Arena (18,500 capacity) in Cologne, while Group B will be at AccorHotels Arena (15,000 capacity).
Canada will go for a three-peat this year after defeating Russia and Finland the last two years, respectively. The Canadians are in Group B with Finland, who took silver at last year’s Worlds, along with Belarus, Czech Republic, France, Norway, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Sweden is in Group A along with Denmark, Germany, Italy, Lativa, Russia, Slovakia and the United States. The Swedes open the tournament against the Russians.