Since Nagano (1998) the Swiss have only made it past the Round Robin phase twice, one of those years being in 2006 when they upset Canada 2-0 in Torino (that was a goal). Thankfully the NHL and IIHF have installed cameras in the proper locations since then, but at the same time Switzerland has exponentially grown in talent and hope that in 2022 they can make a deep run. Here’s a look at our projected roster for Beijing.
1st Line: These are the three most skilled players on the roster and they will likely all play together to try and capitalize on their firepower. For Switzerland to have a chance at a medal these three will need to do a lot of the heavy lifting, Hischier is a former first overall pick and should be entering his prime by the Olympics. A quick fun fact, Nico went back to Switzerland to finish his service to the military during the down time created by COVID-19. Fiala was having the best season of his career before COVID-19 put the season on pause, and Niederreiter has been a household name since his World Juniors performance.
2nd Line: Meier will need to be the offensive catalyst for this line as he partners up with two guys who have previous experience playing with each other. Leafs fans should be familiar with Malgin, he was brought in at the trade deadline to be a depth guy but he was also apart of the Zurich team that Matthews played for in his draft year. Pius Suter, another Zurich product, is the most skilled of the non-NHL players on this roster and has been very productive for Switzerland at the international level.
3rd Line: Another former Habs draft pick, Andrighetto is the lone Swiss born KHL player, we all saw the potential in his game but it just never came to fruition on a consistent level. Bartschi had a solid run with the Canucks during their rebuild years but he never became the prospect they hoped and played most of this past season in the AHL where he averaged over a Point per Game. Finally, Haas who has done the complete opposite, came into the NHL as a 27 year old and earned himself a one year extension with the Oilers after putting up ten points in 58 games.
4th Line: All three of these guys were drafted into the NHL, Hofmann is a bit older and seems like he will be playing in Europe for the foreseeable future but he has been averaging just below a Point per Game over the last three seasons. Thurkauf and Kurashev are both playing in the AHL for their respective teams (Columbus and Chicago) but more importantly they have a ton of International experience and have been productive at every level.
13th (& 14th): Bertschy (Devils) and Martschini round out this list, these two are more shots is in the dark, but the key is they both have International experience and some familiarity with the rest of the forwards mentioned.
1st Pair: Roman Josi will average over 30 minutes per game in Beijing. I think his most common partner will be Weber considering these two have some familiarity from Nashville and Weber has the most experience of anyone else on the Blue Line.
2nd Pair: Luca Sbisa should be a household name for most, he has played most of his career with the Canucks before landing in Winnipeg. His game is the personification of frugal, as he is at his best when he plays a simple, no frills game which perfectly compliments his partner Siegenthaler who plays a very similar game. The Swiss will need to play exceptional defense and a simple game to get into the playoff round and these two could be a highly effective shut down pair.
3rd Pair: Switzerland’s bottom four defenseman can be mixed and matched any you want really, Mirco Muller is a former Devils first round pick who is defensively responsible. Kukan was signed out of the SHL by Columbus and has spent much of his career in the AHL before joining the Blue Jackets full time this season. Again both of these guys are defense first guys which will be imperative if Switzerland wants to be able to win close, low scoring games.
7th: This last guy, as far as I know, was pretty much unknown before this past season in which he was the second highest scoring defenseman in the Swiss Elite League (behind Montreal native Maxim Noreau). Egli is only 21 years of age so there is a chance that a NHL team could give him a look and I’m going to take a shot in the dark on the kid.
Rathgeb and Diaz could also get their names in the mix; I wonder if Diaz still wears #61?
Gilles Senn is the only Swiss born goaltender in a North American system right now playing for Binghamton, the Devils farm team. The HC Davos product was drafted in the fifth round in 2017, and short of them either signing a big name free agent or drafting Askarov, there is an opportunity to take over the crease and for Senn to gain some valuable experience. Regardless he is the defacto starter right now and sitting behind him is Reto Berra formerly of the Avalanche and Flames to name a few and the final name on this roster is Joren van Pottelberghe. JvP currently plays for HC Davos as a 22 year old and is committed to EHC Biel-Bienne next season (presumbly for a starting role) but I expect the Detroit prospect to eventually make his way over to North America and challenge for a starting role on this team.
My apologies but no snubs for you, instead I will wrap things up by saying this; if IIHF rules allow for Marco Rossi to somehow find his way on this team, it would give this roster a significant boost. In Rossi’s case he began playing in Switzerland at the age of 14 when he moved there for his minor hockey development, so Swiss citizenship is a possibility. All of this is most likely moot because he has represented Austria at the U18 and U20 level (last played in 2017-18), but I am far from an expert on all the rules, so if Rossi has any chance of eligibility for Switzerland, he will automatically make this team.
With or without Rossi this team has a strong chance to get into the Quarter Finals, as it stands they are in a Division with Russia and Czech Republic with the last team being one of the qualifiers. Switzerland is a prime upset candidate, let’s see if they can repeat what they did in Torino.