By Marcus Pettersson
As most of you certainly already know, this years World Junior Championships, played in Pardubice in the Czech Republic, ended with Canada snatching up yet another gold medal. This time though, it was a close call, as Team Sweden, captained by Blues' prospect Patrik Berglund (drafted 25th overall, 2006) forced Canada into overtime.
"We should be the ones standing there cheering after the game," Berglund, who played the game with a sore back, told a writer for Swedish hockey-site Hockeysverige.se. "It was extra tough to be beaten by the Canadians this year. They've won it some years in a row now and this year I don't think they deserved to win."
Berglund's performance seems to have opened the eyes of hockey know-it-all's everywhere, and for the first time since 1998, the Swedish U20 team, a.k.a. SmÃ¥kronorna, was represented in the tournament's All Star Team, chosen by hockey writers following the championships.
Goalie: Steve Mason, canada
Defense: Victor Hedman, Sweden â€" Drew Doughty, Canada
Forwards: James Van Riemsdyk, USA â€" Patrik Berglund, Sweden â€" Viktor Tichonov, Russia
Patrik Berglund wasn't just one of the best Swedish players in the tournament â€" he was one of the best, period. Something Blues management is proud of.
When asked about Berglund, Blues Team President John Davidson told The St Louis Post-Distatch writer Jeremy Rutherford, "I loved him. He competed, he played with a lot of grit, skating skills were good, puck skills were good ... he's just a young kid. I'd like to get him in here as soon as we can, get him on the program ... the sky's the limit ... he's got a great future ahead of him."
Al MacInnis (also to Jeremy Rutherford): "Heâ€™s got a great feel for the game. Heâ€™s got good hockey sense. Heâ€™s a big kid whoâ€™s getting stronger. You could see that his intensity level is improving. Heâ€™s playing I would say a little bit more of a North American style, where youâ€™re battling for loose pucks, protecting the puck."
Now, all that remains for Patrik Berglund is to finish off the season with his Swedish team, VÃ¤sterÃ¥s IK. So far this season, Berglund has 14 goals and 9 assists in 21 games. After the season's end in March, Berglund intends to try his luck in North America.
"I have a good dialogue going with the Blues, and if things go my way in camp there's a chance I'll make the squad. I've never hidden the fact that my intention is to play in the NHL," he told Hockeysverige.se. "This last fall they thought that I needed to be stronger, to play a more physical game. I think I'm heading in the right direction and this tournament kind of proves it."