2022 World Junior Championship Switzerland Players to Watch

Switzerland does not have a multitude of superstars like Sweden, Canada, Russia and the United States. They also don’t have the likes of Nino Niederreiter, Roman Josi, Timo Meier or Pius Suter to prop up their offence this time either. They will have to rely upon solid goaltending and a defensive system that has been known to frustrate opponents in the past in order to do anything substantial at the 2022 World Junior Championship (WJC).

Last year, Switzerland did not qualify for the playoff round after going 0-4 in the round-robin and getting outscored 20-5. They did not have anyone score more than one goal and their leading scorer was Dario Allenspach with three assists. This year will likely be more of the same as they do not have a game-breaker in goal or on offence. They do have some intriguing names to watch if you are looking towards the 2022 Draft though.

Lian Bichsel

All eyes will be on 6-foot-5 defenceman Lian Bichsel, who is eligible for the upcoming 2022 Draft. He already has NHL size and should be getting consideration for the second round in June. He skates very well for a big man and has underrated two-way skills. Ranked as high as 28th by FCHockey and Recruit Scouting, he could even sneak into the first round if teams believe they need to add some size to their prospect pool. Playing for Leksands IF J20 in the J20 Nationell and Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), he has three goals and eight points in 20 games.

“The two-way defender surprises with the amount of skill he possesses, from his long, powerful strides to his overall offensive awareness, he shows top-four potential.” – Josh Bell, Sporting News

Bichsel will undoubtedly lead the Swiss defence in ice time while being matched up against the best each country has to offer. It’s a lot to ask from a man that is making his debut at the World Juniors, but he has all the tools to succeed at this level even at 17 years old. Every NHL scout at this tournament will be watching with keen interest as he tries to make a name for himself ahead of the 2022 Draft in June.

Lorenzo Canonica

Passed over at the 2021 Draft in July, Lorenzo Canonica will be looking to catch the eye of scouts as he hopes to be selected in his second go-around this year. He is having a solid season with the Shawinigan Cataractes in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he has 10 goals and 27 points in 29 games. Ranked as high as 107th by FC Hockey for the 2021 Draft, he was surprisingly left standing on the outside looking in when the festivities came to a close in the seventh round. His work ethic and play-driving abilities should have been good enough to at least warrant a flyer in the fifth or sixth round.

Canonica wasn’t all that noticeable on the scoresheet at the 2021 WJC, as he only put up one assist in four games. If he hopes to improve his stock going into the 2022 Draft, he will have to be more of an impact player this time around. Even if he doesn’t lead Switzerland to the bronze medal game as Niederreiter did back in 2010, he has to be someone that gets discussed after the tournament is over. The WJC is one of the biggest stages to showcase your talent and if he disappears again, he’s going to have a hard time convincing a scout to recommend his name to their general manager when the draft rolls around in June.

Simon Knak

Now entering his fifth tournament as Switzerland’s captain, Simon Knak will attempt to lead his country to a medal for the first time since 1998 when David Aebischer shut the door against Czechia in the shootout to win their first and only bronze medal at the WJC. In order to repeat that feat, he will have to do his best Michel Riesen impression and lead his team in scoring as the captain. Oh yes, Kevin Pasche or Noah Patenaude will have to be as air-tight as Aebischer as well, who put up an insane 1.58 goals-against average (GAA) and .958 save percentage (SV%) at that tournament.

Knak definitely has the skills to do what Riesen did. Playing for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League (WHL) last season, he put up 16 goals and 29 points in 24 games and already has six goals and eight points in seven international games this season. Projected to be a bottom-six forward in the NHL, he has a good first step and has shown the ability to surprise goaltenders with his quick shot. He is also a great two-way player as his defensive skills are very polished for a player of his age.

Switzerland Will Need a Team Effort To Succeed

In order for Switzerland to avoid being an easy out at this year’s WJC, not only Bichsel, Canonica and Knak will have to step up their game. The entire team needs to play to their system and their goaltending has to be lights out. They are in a very tough group with Sweden, Russia, Slovakia and the United States all possessing ten times the talent they do.

Related: Team Slovakia Players to Watch at the World Juniors 2022

It’s difficult not to predict a blowout every time Switzerland plays any of these teams. Except, they have surprised teams in the past with a one-game miraculous performance from one of their goaltenders or a clutch goal from one of their more talented forwards. In a tournament like this, anything can happen. Just ask Aebischer or Niederreiter.

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Guide to the 2022 World Junior Championship

Draft Eligible Players to Watch

One Player to Watch From Each Team

10 Things to Watch For

Breakout Candidates & Sleeper Prospects

Predictions for the 2022 World Junior Championship

Award Contenders and Predictions

Roster Breakdown by NHL Team

Selection Camp Invites by NHL Team

All Your THW 2022 World Junior Championship Coverage