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Three Blackhawks among invitees to Sweden's Sochi Games orientation camp

Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Chicago Blackhawks Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson played for Sweden in the 2012 World Championship. (Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

The countdown to the 2014 Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi is on.

The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation started the clock on Friday morning with the announcement that it had selected 35 players to attend its Olympic orientation camp.

The camp will run August 12-14 in Stockholm.

The invite list features 31 NHL vets -- including Marcus Kruger, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya of the Stanley Cup finalist Chicago Blackhawks -- plus three players from the Swedish Elitserien and one from the KHL.

There's no timetable yet from other federations regarding similar announcements, but all are now officially on the clock. Here's Sweden's list:

Goaltenders

Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo Sabres

Viktor Fasth, Anaheim Ducks

Robin Lehner, Ottawa Senators

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Defensemen

Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild

Alexander Edler, Vancouver Canucks

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Phoenix Coyotes,

Jonathan Ericsson, Detroit Red Wings

Nicklas Grossman, Philadelphia Flyers

Erik Gustafsson, Philadelphia Flyers

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings

Douglas Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

Johnny Oduya, Chicago Blackhawks

Henrik Tallinder, New Jersey Devils

Forwards

Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues

Nicklas Bäckström, Washington Capitals

Jimmie Ericsson, Skellefteå AIK

Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars

Johan Franzén, Detroit Red Wings

Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers

Patric Hörnqvist, Nashville Predators

Marcus Johansson, Washington Capitals

Marcus Krüger, Chicago Blackhawks

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

Oscar Lindberg, Skellefteå AIK

Joel Lundqvist, Frölunda HC

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings

Niklas Persson, CSKA Moscow

Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

With long-time team member Daniel Alfredsson uncertain about his playing future, the only obvious omission is Winnipeg defender Tobias Enstrom. Punishment for passing on the World Championships? Maybe, but it could be argued that there are other players on the list who play a similar game with an added defensive edge, making him redundant. The absence of Staffan Kronwall, who played so well at the Worlds, is another surprise.

There was speculation that Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Silfverberg of the Ottawa Senators might earn a camp invite simply for the experience to prep them for 2018, but it appears the Swedes are looking for more of a competitive push from players like Persson, Lundqvist and Lindberg.

But the missing names are nowhere near as curious as the missing element: right-handers. Out of 35 total players, just two, Karlsson and Hornqvist, shoot right. The Swedes can still add players to the mix. If they do, this glaring problem requires addressing.

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