A hockey nation perennially on the rise but failing to find that extra gear, Switzerland will enter the 2018 Winter Olympics dreaming about a medal but with little chance of getting past the quarterfinals. All 25 players play in the nation’s top league and the North American audience will recognize several names. In the pre-Olympic games, the Swiss defeated Norway 4-2 and lost to the Germans 2-1.
THW takes a look at Switzerland’s 25-player roster for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang:
Jonas Hiller (EHC Biel-Bienne), Leonardo Genoni (SC Bern), Tobias Stephan (EV Zug).
With Hiller and Genoni the Swiss will have two good options in net. The former Anaheim Ducks goalie is probably more talented but Genoni is more consistent and has a lot of international experience, despite being in better shape of late.
Ironically, Genoni is the only goalie on the roster without Olympic experience. Tobias Stephan made the roster at the two previous games though he never played a game. He’ll again be the third-string goaltender.
Eric Blum (SC Bern), Raphael Diaz (EV Zug), Felicien Du Bois (HC Lugano), Philip Furrer (HC Lugano), Patrick Geering (ZSC Zurich), Roman Loeffel (Geneve-Servette HC), Dominik Schlumpf (EV Zug), Ramon Untersander (SC Bern).
Defense is Team Switzerland’s weakest link. Especially considering that most of their best players are offensive defensemen. It will be interesting to follow Ramon Untersander, a little bit of a surprise call for the Olympics, who is having a very strong season in the NL with 37 points in 47 regular season games (scoring 30 last year) and a good performance at the IIHF WC last year with five assists in six games. Raphael Diaz has played more than 200 games in the NHL and he is expected to be the true team leader.
The Swiss defense will have to rely on familiarity and on goaltenders because it won’t be easy for this roster to counter the Canadian or Czech Republic forwards. It would have been interesting to see former WHL defenseman Michael Fora, but he didn’t make the team.
While this group isn’t elite, it demonstrates that the Swiss are gaining depth and have talent in the pipeline (Nico Gross, Jonas Siegenthaler) should ensure a good generational change in a few years.
Cody Almond (Geneve-Servette HC), Andres Ambuhl (HC Davos), Simon Bodenmann (SC Bern), Enzo Corvi (HC Davos), Gaetan Haas (SC Bern), Fabrice Herzog (ZSC Zurich), Gregory Hoffmann (HC Lugano), Dennis Hollenstein (EHC Kloten), Simon Moser (SC Bern), Vincent Praplan (EHC Kloten), Thomas Rufenacht (SC Bern), Tristan Scherwey (SC Bern), Reto Schappi (ZSC Zurich), Pius Suter (ZSC Zurich).
Team Switzerland head coach Patrick Fischer (who played on year in the NHL with the then-Phoenix Coyotes) had more options among the available forwards, although he had to deal with an injury to former Tampa Bay Lightning Joel Vermin.
Pius Suter will be the youngest forward on the team. He had a couple of good seasons in the OHL but was undrafted. If he performs well at the Games, it’s easy to imagine that more than one NHL team will be interested in signing him. He is having a career year in the NL, with 38 points in 33 regular season games.
Suter will not be the only player to make NHL scouts take note if things go well for the Swiss team. Gaetan Haas is a 26-year-old offensive center who plays a reliable two-way game. His ability to play on both scoring and checking lines will be fundamental for Team Switzerland and interesting for NHL scouts to see. Fabrice Herzog may have a second chance after failing to stick with the Toronto Maple Leafs a few years ago and Vincent Praplan may earn his second chance as well.
Team Switzerland has good depth but their forwards aren’t yet on par with other big European teams like Russia, Sweden, or the Czech Republic.
The Bottom Line
This is a team with talent in goal, a decent defensive crop and experienced forwards. Is it a recipe for a medal? While the Swiss are doing everything right, there isn’t enough talent for them to really think about an Olympic medal. That being said, playing against this team will be hard for anyone, especially if Leonardo Genoni or Jonas Hiller are on their game.
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