The second international break of the season doesn’t totally fit the actual definition of a “break”. In fact, with the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, Euro Ice Hockey Challenge, the Euro Hockey Tour, Four Nations and Deutschland Cup events, among others, all taking place at the same time, it’s quite a busy time to be an international hockey fan. The Deutschland Cup is a very interesting one, as it gives Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia a chance to develop some players for the World Championships later in the year while getting a chance to take on either the United States or Canada. This year, USA will look to defend their 2013 title after a one-year absence, but they’ll have to do it without likely 2016 NHL Draft first overall pick Auston Matthews, who will miss the tournament with an injury.
With that in mind, take a look at the five players to keep an eye on once the annual tournament heads to Germany from November 6th-8th.
5. Dominik Kahún, F (Germany): Dominik Kahún isn’t that big of a name, but at 20-years-old and with connections to North America, there is a chance we could eventually see the Czech-born star in the NHL or AHL some day. Kahún may have moved back to the German DEL league in order to pursue more ice time and more opportunities, but it has definitely worked out in his favour. In fact, he’s been the top scorer on EHC München for the entire season, both in league action and at the Champions Hockey League. Kahun has played for the Germans at pretty much every international level so far, but this will be his first real chance to play in a competitive men’s league tournament. His World Junior performance earlier this year may have been underwhelming, but when Kahun is good, he’s good. Kahun could make a case for a spot on the World Championship roster with a strong tournament on home soil this week. Can he pull through and be an underdog scorer?
4. Martin Réway, F (Slovakia): Martin Reway has been the centre of controversy in recent weeks, but let’s not forget the fact that he’s one heck of a hockey player. At the time of getting sent down to the Czech2 league by HC Sparta Praha, Reway was actually the top scorer for the famed hockey club, but internal disagreements meant that he’d be stuck sitting around for a bit. The Deutschland Cup should be a good distraction from league play as Slovakia aims for an early season hockey title, and if Reway proved anything with his 19 points split over the past two World Juniors, he knows how to shine when he puts on a blue sweater. A prospect within the Montreal Canadiens system, Reway has been a consistent contributor for the Slovaks in every international competition he’s competed in, no matter what the role. A new role with HC Slovan Bratislava should help put a bit more juice into his step, where he could easily become a solid second/third line goal scorer in the KHL. Reway could slot himself into a top role with the Slovaks over in Germany thanks to his ability to put up solid numbers at the professional level at just 20-years-old, so if you’re a Habs fan, I’d keep an eye on him if I were you.
3. Benjamin Conz, G (Switzerland): Remember Conz, the former World Junior hero from 2010? Conz hasn’t been able to stick around in the spotlight since then, but Conz is still a very strong and capable Swiss goalie option. The goalie with the most wins in the Swiss NLA over the past three seasons, Conz has well over 20 starts for his country in international competition but has yet to see the ice in any World Championship tournaments. At 24-years-old, there is obviously a lot of time for Conz to still make a run towards the national team for more major events, but Conz could be a solid choice for the Swiss. He battles hard, he’s got the success to back him up and he comes in as one of the more highly regarded goaltenders in a tournament void of any real superstars. Could that work in his favour while helping him climb up the hockey latter?
2. Cade Fairchild, D (USA): Alrighty, so, why is a guy with almost no impact during his NHL career making the list? Simple, Cade Fairchild knows what to do with the bigger ice. After a so-so career in the American Hockey League, Fairchild’s NHL career was halted at the age of 24 following a five-game stint with the St. Louis Blues, posting just a single point in a very limited role. But internationally, Fairchild has faired quite well, even leading all defenseman in scoring with eight points at the 2007 Under-18 World Juniors. The Deutschland Cup will mark the first time that Fairchild will represent USA at a men’s national team event, but with his play quickly improving in his sophomore season with Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the KHL, it looks like Fairchild could be a solid top four option this year. He’s already got medals at both the U17’s and U18’s, and he’s proven he likes the big ice surface that international hockey offers him. With the team bringing a rather underwhelming roster now that Auston Matthews has to sit out, you could see Fairchild, a solid play-maker, chipping in from the point to add some extra oomph.
1. Patrick Reimer, F (Germany): No, Leafs fans, James Reimer didn’t change his name and become a forward all of a sudden. Reimer isn’t typically a big point getter for the Germans at the World Championships, but Reimer does seem to excel more when playing for the Germans in other events. In fact, Reimer was the top scorer of the Deutschland Cup a year ago, racking up four points in three games to help his country win gold on home ice. Currently in his fourth season as captain of the DEL’s Nürnberg Ice Tigers, Reimer has been on top of the scoring charts on a team that includes former NHLer’s Brandon Segal and Dany Heatley. Reimer is always a solid depth player at the World Championships, so this is a decent event for Reimer to be a leader at. Germany is coming in as the favourites once again, and with core skill at every position, the team won’t have an issue living up to the hype. The question is, can Reimer really continue on from his effort a year ago?
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