Goalies: Fortunately for those who don’t know a lot about Swiss prospects, the team will bring back two of their three goaltenders from the 2015 tournament, the same one that saw them visit the relegation round. It wasn’t due to the goaltending, however, as Genève-Servette goaltender Gauthier Descloux did a solid job despite playing with a poor team in front of him. One of the top Swiss players at the Under-18 tournament back in 2014, Descloux finished with a 3.16 GAA and .878 SV%, and while those obviously don’t look great on paper, stats don’t tell the whole story. Descloux has seen some action with GSHC in the Swiss League this year, and with him being a solid contributor between the pipes for the Swiss at various international tournaments over the past few years, expect him to get the lion’s share of action once again. Ludovic Waeber will most likely act as the backup again, but after tearing a ligament that took him out action for almost all of the season so far, he could be rusty if he’s called upon at some point. Joren van Pottelberghe should also be given a chance following his strong Under-18 tournament performance earlier in 2015, giving the Swiss three good goalies to choose from if they need to.
Defensemen: The Swiss always tend to have a very strong defensive core, and Jonas Siegenthaler will be there to lead the charge this year. A second round selection by the Washington Capitals this past June, Siegenthaler is a very smooth skater despite being more of a physical defenseman. Siegenthaler has the ability to throw a big hit and still keep solid positioning, helping his transition game flourish as a result. Siegenthaler won’t be counted on to provide much offense throughout the tournament, but that can be left to guys like Roger Karrer. An 18-year-old defenseman with the NLA’s ZSC Lions, Karrer saw some action with Siegenthaler during pre-tournament action and will likely get an extended look with him, Karrer is known for being a powerplay specialist who can fire the shot fairly well from the point. Not a very big defenseman, Karrer is a good skater that can use the big ice to his advantage and should be a decent contributor after a good start to the season. Simon Kindschi will return to the Swiss for his second tour of duty, having represented the team a year ago in Canada. A prospect within the HC Davos system, Kindschi has played well every time he’s put on the Swiss jersey, especially at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka tournament after putting up four points in four games. Fellow Davos defender Fabian Heldner will likely eat up some top six space while Edson Harlacher will also return after providing his safe defensive stylings to the Swiss last year.
Forwards: It’s rare for the Swiss to enter a tournament with their forwards being the most dangerous part of the roster, but that’s exactly the case heading to Finland this year. Obviously, the top talent on the roster is Timo Meier, an offensive star with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. After six points in as many games last year, the scoring dynamo will look for whatever it takes to be a significant contributor for the Swiss while proving why the San Jose Sharks were right choosing him ninth overall at the most recent NHL Draft. Denis Malgin should also be impactful for the country after proving himself at the World Under-18’s and the main Under-20 tournament, and with the ability to really shine during a power-play, expecting him to get over a point-per-game should be expected. Returning forward Noah Rod has looked solid as a 19-year-old forward for Geneve-Servette, suiting up in his third season for the club. A draft pick by the San Jose Sharks, Rod will most likely act as a first line winger after fulfilling a similar role during his six-point performance at last year’s tournament. Kris Schmidli and Pius Suter should help fill out some of the spots in the top nine while underage forward Nico Hischier could end up being a surprise star as the 13th forward after a good Four Nations tournament in Slovakia earlier this year. Auguste Impose could provide some good solid offensive depth after a decent Under-18 tournament a few months back, and with experience playing with the Quebec Remparts, he knows a thing or two about playing against strong North American competition. Johnny Kneubuehler is off to a good start in the Swiss U20 league, and while he’s not playing against top end talent like some of the other forwards on the roster, he’ll likely slot in as a second or third line centreman. Don’t forget about future Davos forward Tino Kessler and Geneve-Servette youngster Damien Riat, who has looked considerably strong in the top Swiss league this year.
Projection: The Swiss typically play a strong-skating type game, and with guys like Malgin and Meier headlining the team, there’s no reason to doubt they’ll be better on big ice than on the NHL size surfaces from a year ago. A good portion of the team is back from a year ago, and while a ninth place finish isn’t exactly something to get excited about, they won’t find themselves in the relegation round this year. Who knows, the Swiss could really end up surprising people. They’re known to do that.
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