Team Switzerland has named their final men’s roster ahead of the 2022 Olympic Games, and the first thing that hit me was the experience in their lineup. Sixteen players competed in the 2021 World Championships, and 11 played in the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. Experience and continuity is the name of the game for head coach Patrick Fischer who has 13 players who are already over 30 and another two who will turn 30 in Beijing. Combined, the team has played over 1,500 NHL games, 626 World Championship games and 72 Olympic Games.
The NHL’s decision to pull their players out of the Olympics forced many nations to rethink their rosters, and many teams will have players who don’t know each other at all. The same cannot be said of Switzerland; they’ve made tweaks rather than big changes, which could help them hit the ground running.
Roster Selected From the Swiss National League
A handful of Swiss NHL players will not make the trip led by Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, and what would have been a solid top line of San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier, New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier and Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala. Instead, Switzerland has chosen their roster based exclusively on players from their National League, as they did for their 2018 Olympic roster when NHL players did not participate. They believe the strategy worked, despite finishing 10th.
With some solid depth and 11 returnees, does this @SwissIceHockey #Beijing2022 team have what it takes to capture a medal? 🇨🇭— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 18, 2022
READ MORE: https://t.co/3dLME2RGQR#hockey #icehockey #eishockey #hockeysurglace #hockeysughiaccio #Olympics @swissteam pic.twitter.com/OryydCZTkH
Swiss players have often left the NHL to return home to play in Switzerland rather than elsewhere in Europe, so the men’s Olympic roster has several former NHL players.
Team Switzerland Goaltenders
Reto Berra (Fribourg-Gotteron), Leonardo Genoni (EV Zug), Joren van Pottelberghe (EHC Biel)
Fischer will call upon two goalies who played for Switzerland in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics, which is a positive. Reto Berra played in 2014, but was unable to play in 2018 when the NHL didn’t participate, so Leonardo Genoni got the nod. Berra is now back in Switzerland, and these two will battle for the starting job, although they could share starts throughout. It’s unlikely that 24-year-old Joren van Pottelberghe hits the ice, but it will be a great experience for him as he looks to earn the top spot in the 2026 Olympics, which will be played in Italy.
Based on goalies who have played 10 games or more in the Swiss National League, Berra ranks second while Genoni is third in save percentage.
Team Switzerland Defensemen
Santeri Alatalo (HC Lugano), Raphael Diaz (Fribourg-Gotteron), Michael Fora (HC Ambri-Piotta), Romain Loeffel (HC Lugano), Christian Marti (ZSC Lions), Mirco Muller (HC Lugano), Ramon Untersander (SC Bern), Yannick Weber (ZSC Lions Zurich)
Captain Raphael Diaz will head up the defensive group, playing in his fourth Olympic Games. He is one of three players who played in 2018, along with Ramon Untersander and Romain Loeffel. Other experienced players include Yannick Weber, who played 499 NHL games, and Mirco Muller, who returned to Switzerland after playing 185 regular-season games with the Sharks and Devils.
Also, look out for Santeri Alatalo, who is second in scoring among defensemen in the National League with 31 points in 36 games. Including Alatalo, three key members of the blue line play together for HC Lugano, providing established chemistry.
Team Switzerland Forwards
Andres Ambuhl (HC Davos), Sven Andrighetto (ZSC Lions), Christoph Bertschy (Lausanne HC), Enzo Corvi (HC Davos), Gaetan Haas (EHC Biel), Fabrice Herzog (EV Zug), Gregory Hofmann (EV Zug), Denis Hollenstein (ZSC Lions Zurich), Denis Malgin (ZSC Lions Zurich), Simon Moser (SC Bern), Killian Mottet (Fribourg-Gotteron), Sven Senteler (EV Zug), Dario Simion (EV Zug), Joel Vermin (Geneve-Servette)
The equally experienced forward group is led by Andres Ambuhl, who will take part in his fifth Olympics. The 38-year-old will become the first Swiss hockey player to reach that mark and just the 12th in the world to play in five or more Olympic Games. Ambuhl first participated in 2006 in Turin, playing with Fischer, who is now the head coach.
Related: 2022 Guide to the Men’s Olympic Tournament
Seven forwards played for the team in 2018, and they also have 190 World Championship games under their belt. Again, Team Switzerland should be able to match up with any team in terms of chemistry and international experience.
Three Newcomers to the Olympics
Denis Malgin, 25, is the youngest skater on the team. He tried his luck in North America, but after failing to secure a long-term spot in the NHL, he is finding success playing in his native Switzerland. He played almost 200 NHL games, mostly with the Florida Panthers — although he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs when they loaned to Lausanne last season — where he scored 42 points in 45 regular-season games. That led to a permanent move. The Zurich Lions picked him up, and he’s scoring over a point a game this season, with 39 points in 36 games. He is the highest-scoring Swiss player in the division and seventh overall.
Sven Andrighetto is another newcomer to the tournament but should be a familiar name to NHL fans. He played 216 games for the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche. He left the Avs after the 2018-19 season and went to the KHL for one season with Avangard Omsk before returning home to Switzerland, where he has put up strong numbers for the Zurich Lions. This season, he has 27 points in 36 games and will add some scoring power to this offensive group.
Joel Vermin is the final standout newcomer. He played 24 NHL games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but struggled to cement his place in the league. He played well for the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League (AHL) and has continued that success in his return to Switzerland. This season, he hasn’t been as strong, but Vermin is a natural goal scorer, with 14 goals and 19 points.
Gregory Hofmann Eligible to Play
Gregory Hofmann played 24 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, scoring seven points in his first season outside of Switzerland. However, he refused to return to the Blue Jackets after being allowed home for the birth of his child, and the club confirmed he will not be returning to the NHL. Hofmann’s former team EV Zug has taken him on, and he should get to play a few games before the Olympics start.
NEWS: #CBJ have suspended forward Gregory Hofmann.https://t.co/5rVkjUKjGJ— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) January 10, 2022
In his previous four seasons in the National League, Hoffman was a point-per-game player, and his inclusion on the Olympic roster is a big boost for the team and gives them another scoring forward.
Will Team Switzerland Improve on 2018?
Switzerland was eliminated by the silver medalist, Germany, in the qualification playoff round. However, the Germans also knocked out Team Sweden and Team Canada before losing to Russia in the gold medal game. This Swiss team is expected to at least reach the quarter-finals.
The roster has a lot of chemistry and experience, which should help them to settle in quickly, find their feet and hit the ground running. They may not have the talent of some of the bigger hockey nations, but their familiarity should help them win a few more games in 2022.