In 1987, the German Ice Hockey Federation created the Deutschland Cup as a mid-season international tournament, featuring teams from Europe and North America. In addition to the typical list of teams that include Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia, Canada re-joined the tournament after sitting out for a year to allow the Americans to grab the 2013 gold.
Featuring many players looking to find their way onto World Championship squads in May, the Deutschland Cup gives many players a solid opportunity to shine while many of the stars are still out participating in the NHL. Take a look at the top five players that will participate in this years edition of the tournament, which is set to take place from Nov. 7-9 in Munich, Germany
For the top five former NHLer’s competing for Team Canada at the Deutschland Cup, check out the list here.
5. Tim Ramholt D, (Switzerland): Tim Ramholt is surely no outsider to North American hockey fans. That is, of course, if you can remember the one game Ramholt played with the Calgary Flames back in 2007-2008. A former second round, 39th overall draft pick, Ramholt spent three season in the American Hockey League with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, Quad City Flames, Philadelphia Phantoms and Milwaukee Admirals, posting 46 points in 210 games. After being unable to find a contract in the NHL, Ramholt found his way back to Switzerland, spending three seasons with Davos before joining Zug last season. A hard hitting defensive defenseman, Ramholt has been able to chip in some offense this season, recording seven points in the first 15 games of the season with Zug. Ramholt comes into the Deutschland Cup as one of the most experienced defensemen, having played in 37 career games with the men’s national team. He even saw two games of action with the Swiss at the most recent World Championships, and if he hopes to do that again, he’ll need to shine in Germany.
4. Julius Hudáček, G (Slovakia): Odds are that if you have a computer, you’ve heard of Hudáček. Famous for some of his crazy on-ice celebrations, Hudáček will participate in his first Euro Hockey Tour event after a couple years of backing up Slovakia at the World Championships. Named as one of Slovakia’s top three players at the 2008 U20 World Juniors, has seen international action in six previous contests. This will be his biggest opportunity to suit up for his country, however. Without big names like Marek Svatos and Marcel Hossa creating the offense, as well as goaltender Jan Laco and Rastislav Stana not heading over to Germany, the 25-year-old will have a chance to prove himself as Slovakia’s top goaltender for the future. Currently playing for Örebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League, Hudáček has a record of 6-6-0 to go along with a .923 SP, helping his team sit in fourth place. This season is Hudáček’s first real chance of playing in a high level of competition, and while there will surely be some curve balls thrown his way, it’s safe to say he’s had quite the start and will only continue to improve.
3. Thomas Oppenheimer, F (Germany): Oppenheimer has participated in just one men’s tournament to date, but the 25-year-old didn’t disappoint, In his German national team debut, Oppenheimer led his team in scoring with six points, proving to be one of the few bright spots for a team that barely stayed alive in the top group. German hockey has been on a real decline the past few years, A forward for the Hamburg Freezers, Oppenheimer has seen a steady increase in offense every year since joining the team back in 2010-2011. In 14 games this year, the German forward has recorded 11 points, an impressive effort for the player hoping to make a big impact for his country at the Deutschland Cup. Oppenheimer has never been a crazy scoring superstar in the DEL, but considering he’s improved every year for the last couple of seasons, it appears as though the youngster is finally growing into his own.
2. Christoph Bertschy, F (Switzerland): The most recent player to be drafted by an NHL team on this list, Bertschy was selected by Minnesota in the sixth round of the 2012 draft. A forward for SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, Bertschy has represented the Swiss in a variety of junior tournaments over the past few seasons. After recording 66 points in 81 U20 international games, Bertschy will suit up for his first men’s international tournament this year for the struggling team in red and white. Finally showing his true worth for Bern, Bertschy is now getting some top six duty with the club after three seasons in a more limited role. In 17 contests this year, the playmaking forward has recorded three goals and 11 points to go along with an extra four points in two Swiss Cup games. While it’s still unclear as to whether Bertschy will ever make his way over to Minnesota, the Düdingen, SUI native is surely showing signs of improvement and should be a bright spot for a team that will be missing many of their stars.
1. Dennis Endras, G (Germany): Nobody is going to deny that Endras is one of the greatest Germans to never play in the NHL. He had his chance, suiting up for the AHL’s Houston Aeros back in 2011-2012, but he only saw six games of action and never made it up to the top with the Minnesota Wild. Perhaps his greatest international achievement came during the 2010 World Championships when Endras was named the tournament MVP, despite playing for the underdog German squad. Endras’ incredible performance was one for the ages, as he managed to help Germany finish in fourth place, which proved to be their best since their silver medal back in 1953. Considered to be a German goaltending star, Endras, along with former NHL prospect Timo Pielmeier, should help Germany boast one of the top goaltending duos in the tournament. Germany, who hosts the tournament, is looking to grab the gold again after their impressive tournament effort in 2010, but they’ll need Endras to step up and take control if that’s to happen.
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