Goalies: Let’s be honest, not much is known about the Swiss goalies unless you follow the NLA or NLB. But by the end of the tournament, you’ll likely know more than you ever expected. Odds are you probably knew nothing about Benjamin Conz a few years back, and Gauthier Descloux, Gilles Senn and Ludovic Waeber have likely never crossed your hockey research at any point. All three goalies have seen action with their NLA affiliates this season, and while limited, all three have looked good. Descloux’s club team, Geneve-Servette, have nine goalies affiliated with them, whether it be under contract or through loan, so despite the injuries the main starting goalies have had this season, it’s not likely he’ll get many games with the team this year. He hasn’t played much this year, but in two U20 games this season with GSHC, he has a 0.50 GAA to go along with a 1.82 GAA and .938 SV% with the big team. Senn is in a similar situation, seeing limited action with HC Davos this year, but he does have a 2.73 GAA in 22 games as the starter for the Davos U20 club. Waeber, on the other hand, is the only goalie to have not played for his organization during an NLA league game, and instead the Swiss cup, but he does have a 2.84 GAA with Gottéron U20 this year. Descloux has played in over 20 junior games internationally for Switzerland, the most out of any of the goalies, so expect him to see a good amount of action throughout the tournament.
Defense: The Swiss will will be relying on the San Jose Sharks to allow Mirco Mueller to participate for the team. Muller has the potential to be the tournament’s best defenseman, as shown by his ability to stick in the NHL already. He was consistently one of the better Swiss defenseman at the past two tournaments, so it’s a no brainer that he would be a big addition to the team. If Mueller isn’t around, Phil Baltisberger will be participating in his whopping fourth WJC tournament, so expect the 2015 draft eligible defenseman to be relied on. However, the defensive defenseman could also be a liability. He only has 2 goals and 7 assists this season, but he does have 56 PIM. However, he is a 6,1, 214 pound defender so, for obvious reason, he’ll get ice time against some of the better players. Plymouth Whalers defenseman Yannick Rathgeb will also get a bit of attention as a returning player, while Michael Fora, who is more of a two-way blue liner with the Kamloops Blazers, will bring in some unusual Swiss offense from the back end.
Forwards: While the country has never been one to produce a large amount of quality offense, the Swiss do have a stud in Nashville prospect Kevin Fiala. Fiala was one of the best Swiss players in Malmo last year and has been fantastic in the Swedish league against men this year. Fiala has played in well over 60 international contests for Switzerland at the young age of 18, but he also saw some action with the men’s team at the recent World Championships, a month before he was selected 11th overall by the Predators. He just the third player in history to play in the Under-18, Under-20 and Men’s World Championships in the same year, a fantastic accomplishment for the youngster. He won’t be able to lead the team by himself, though. 2015 draft prospect Timo Meier is going to have to step up big this year, and after seeing some success with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads this season, he should be a force offensively. Noah Rod has 43 points in 51 junior international contests, so the hard-working San Jose Sharks prospect, who was kept off the Geneve-Servette Spengler Cup roster in order to play in this tournament, should bring his brand of tough, two-hockey to the team. Denis Malgin should also be impactful for the country after proving himself at the World Under-18’s earlier this year, and with the 2015 draft on his mind, he’ll likely be a threat every time he hits the ice.
Projection: Well the bad news is they don’t have Benjamin Conz or Nino Niederreiter. The good news, however, is that they aren’t Slovakia or Germany. Switzerland doesn’t have the best team around, but anything better than a seventh place finish may be a stretch. They may be able to upset somebody along the way, but don’t expect more than that.
Check out Switzerland’s roster here.
Past five results:
2010: 4th Place
2011: 5th Place
2012: 8th Place
2013: 6th Place
2014: 7th Place
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