Canada, Time to Bring Home the Spengler Cup

There is plenty of hockey to watch if you prefer to spend the Christmas holidays with hockey instead of family gatherings. One of those exciting hockey events taking place over this stretch is the annual Spengler Cup tournament, the oldest invitational ice hockey tournament in the world which takes place in Davos, Switzerland from December 26-31.

This year’s edition of the traditional tournament consists of the current Swiss Champion HC Davos, second Swiss team HC Lugano, acting German Champion Adler Mannheim, the two KHL teams Jokerit Helsinki and Avtomobilist Jekaterinburg as well as Team Canada, a selection of the best Canadian players playing in Europe and the AHL. Canada participated in every Spengler Cup since 1984.

Canada hasn’t won the tournament since the lockout year 2012, when they had a team featuring Matt Duchene, Jason Spezza, Patrice Bergeron and others. Furthermore, Canada has won the tournament only twice in the past ten years, something they try to change this year.

It is time to bring home the Spengler Cup trophy and with their roster this should be doable. There is a lot of NHL-experience in Guy Boucher’s team with Manny Malhotra, Daniel Paille, Matt Lombardi and others.

The whole roster can be found here!

For Canadian residents, TSN and RDS is airing all games live.

Let’s have a look at some players to watch:

Brandon Kozun (RW, Jokerit Helsinki)

Undersized forward Brandon Kozun has already displayed that he can make up for his lack of size with prolific scoring skills. He has great hands and vision and is a dangerous offensive weapon. Before joining KHL-team Jokerit Helsinki for his first European stint, he played in the Kings’ and Leafs’ organization, mostly on AHL-level though.

Kozun hopes to spark his career and is doing just fine in the KHL, being one of the top scorers in the league with 36 points in 40 games. If he continues to put up those numbers in the KHL, he will soon be on the radar of NHL-organizations again.

Peter Regin (C, Jokerit Helsinki)

Like for Kozun, the same goes for center Peter Regin. The 29-year-old Dane returned to Europe after he was moved around by several NHL-teams and played in only four games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He can take on a much bigger role for Jokerit and is currently the second best scorer for his team with 31 points. Regin’s goal remains the NHL and he hopes to draw attention to NHL-teams with his solid numbers in the KHL.

Philip Larsen (D, Jokerit Helsinki)

Another Danish player in Helsinki, Defenceman Philip Larsen is in his second KHL-season and is flourishing into a point productive offensive defender this season. Larsen, a fifth round selection of the Dallas Stars back in 2008, has played in 125 NHL-games for the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars and has put up decent numbers on AHL-level. Larsen brings a lot of offensive skill and hockey smarts to the table while still playing a reliable own zone game. He is looking to impose on NHL-organizations and the Spengler Cup might just be the proper stage for him to do so.

Nikita Tryamkin (D, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg)

Towering defenceman Nikita Tryamkin was selected 66th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2014. He is an impressive kid with 6’7 and over 220 lbs. Also impressive is that he is already in his fourth KHL-season at the age of only 21. He has leadership qualities and is a stay-at-home defender who uses his long reach to take away passing lanes. As most tall defenders, Tryamkin has a strong and powerful shot.

However, Tryamkin will be a long term prospect for the Canucks as he isn’t planning to join the Canucks organization immediately: “As for NHL, I’m not planning on going there right now, I’m not planning so far ahead. If I’m going to get an offer from Avtomobilist during the season, I’ll consider it”

Anatoli Golyshev (LW/RW, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg)

Anatoli Golyshev is in his third KHL season with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg and will have his most productive season with already scored 32 points in 39 games. His 20 goals are the fourth best mark of the entire KHL, which already gives an indication of his strengths. Golishev has a nose for the net and knows how to score. He wasn’t drafted and if he continues to put up numbers like this year he might draw attention to NHL organizations. Golyshev played at the U20 World Championship last year and was suspended for a blindside hit which sent his opponent leaving the ice on a stretcher.

Elvis Merzlikins (G, HC Lugano)

Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins was drafted in the third round in 2014 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He took over the starting position for Swiss team HC Lugano and finally gets the starts he deserves. He would be ready for the next challenge after another year playing professional hockey in Switzerland’s top league and will sooner or later end up playing in the organization of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Read more about Merzlikins

Leonardo Genoni (G, HC Davos)

Arguably the best Swiss goaltender outside of the NHL for the past couple of years. Leonardo Genoni will say goodbye to Davos after this season, where he has spent the past nine seasons. He became an elite goaltender in the organization of Davos and was a big part of their playoff stint last season which resulted in winning the Swiss championship. Genoni possesses all the skills to be a backup in an NHL organization.

Andres Ambuhl (C, HC Davos)

The captain of the host team HC Davos was never drafted but the New York Rangers signed him back in 2009 where he played 64 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack and scored 14 points before returning to Switzerland the year after. His short AHL seemed to be a typical case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In my opinion, Ambuhl would have the skills and work ethic to be a role player in North America. He is a work horse on and off the ice and does everything to make his team better. He is only getting better with age and is currently playing some of his best hockey.

Cory Conacher (LW/RW, Team Canada)

At the age of only 26, Cory Conacher is already a journeyman and played in five different NHL organizations. His best season was the 12/13 campaign with the Tampa Bay Lightning when he scored 24 points in 35 games, but since then his career took a bump and he didn’t regularly play in the NHL but spent a significant amount in the AHL. He currently plays in the Swiss league with SC Bern in his first European stint.

His speed and puckhandling skills are perfectly made for the fast and speedy Swiss league. In an injury plagued team, he is one of the few constants and leads the team by far. He is one of the more dominant players and his stint in Europe could soon come to an end if he continues to put up good numbers.

Derek Roy (C, Team Canada)

After the Buffalo Sabres have traded away Derek Roy in 2012, the center from Rockland, Ontario never found his game again. He was moved around a couple of times and finally joined SC Bern where he starts to excel after a slow start. Roy needed a couple of games to get used to bigger ice surfaces but found some chemistry as of lately. He still has some years left at the age of 32 and it is no secret that he aims a return to the NHL, but he would need to pick up the pace to attract more attention from NHL organizations.

Honorable mentions:

  • Juhamatti Aaltonen (RW, Jokerit Helsinki)
  • Brent Raedeke (C, Adler Mannheim)
  • Brandon Yip (RW/LW, Adler Mannheim)
  • Gregory Hofmann (C/LW, HC Lugano)
  • Linus Klasen (LW/RW, HC Lugano)
  • Dick Axelsson (LW, HC Davos)
  • Yevgeni Mityakin (RW, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg)
  • Matt D’Agostini (RW, Team Canada)