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World Juniors 2015: Switzerland team preview

The Swiss made it to the quarter-finals in 2014, losing to Canada in the playoff round. Can the team improve upon that performance at the 2015 tournament?

Switzerland will play its preliminary round games in Toronto as one of the five teams in Group A that also contains the Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia, and Sweden. Outside of a 7-1 rout at the hands of the Russians at last year's tournament, the Swiss held their own in a 5-3 loss at the hands of Sweden and defeated eventual-gold-medal-winner Finland in a shootout in its final round robin game. The Confoederatio Helvetica will look to some players picked early in the 2013 and 2014 NHL entry drafts to take the next step on the international stage.

Roster

Player Pos Draft Year* League Current Team (NHL)
Gilles Senn G 2014 Swiss Elite Jr. A Davos U20
Gauthier Descloux G 2014 Swiss NLB Martigny Red Ice
Ludovic Waeber G 2014 Swiss Elite Jr. A Gottéron U20
Mirco Müller D (18th) 2013 NHL San Jose Sharks
Yannick Rathgeb D 2014 OHL Plymouth Whalers
Michael Fora D 2014 WHL Kamloops Blazers
Phil Baltisberger D 2014 OHL Guelph Storm
Edson Harlacher D 2014 Swiss NLA Kloten Flyers
Simon Kindschi D 2014 Swiss Elite Jr. A Davos U20
Jonas Siegenthaler D 2015 Swiss NLA ZSC Lions
Luca Hischier F 2013 Swiss Elite Jr. A Bern U20
Tim Wieser F 2013 QMJHL Sherbrooke Phoenix
Luca Fazzini F 2013 Swiss NLA HC Lugano
Marc Aeschlimann F 2013 Swiss NLA HC Davos
Jason Fuchs F 2013 Swiss NLA HC Ambri-Piotta
Michael Hügli F 2014 Swiss Elite Jr. A Zug U20
Pius Suter F 2014 OHL Guelph Storm
Noah Rod F (53rd) 2014 Swiss NLA Genève-Servette HC (SJS)
Kris Schmidli F 2014 WHL Kelowna Rockets
Kevin Fiala F (11th) 2014 SHL HV71 Jonkoping (NSH)
Timo Meier F 2015 QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads
Kay Schweri F 2015 QMJHL Sherbrooke Phoenix
Denis Malgin F 2015 Swiss NLA ZSC Lions

*grey text for undrafted players

Switzerland will make its final five cuts needed to reduce the roster to twenty-three players after its final exhibition game on December 23rd versus Canada. Switzerland has finalized the roster, opting for a group that consists of three goaltenders, seven defencemen and thirteen forwards.

Draft Eligible Players

Defenceman Roger Karrer had five points in five games at the IIHF under-eighteen tournament in 2014. This season he has six points in twenty-seven games in the Swiss National League B. Karrer will not play in the 2015 tournament after being one of the final cuts after pre-tournament evaluations.

Seventeen-year-old forward Denis Malgin is playing in the National League A, the top Swiss league, and has scored seven points in nineteen games. His ZSC Lions teammate, Jonas Siegenthaler, won't turn eighteen until May, 2015, but the defenceman has contributed two points and is a plus-eight on the season. Siegenthaler was ranked seventy-first in Craig Button's November prospect rankings.

At number eighty on that list is Halifax Moosehead Timo Meier, who sits second on his QMJHL team in both points and points per game (behind 2014 ninth-overall pick Nikolaj Ehlers in both categories). Also playing this season in the Q, Kay Schweri leads the Sherbrooke Phoenix in points (one ahead of undrafted Swiss linemate Tim Wieser; nine more than Canadiens' prospect Daniel Audette) and plus/minus. His plus-fourteen is five better than the second-highest personal goal differential, while his thirty-eight assist total is one less than the QMJHL lead.

Strengths

That offence highlighted above is only from first-year-eligible draft hopefuls. Switzerland will also have 2014's eleventh overall draft pick in Nashville Predators' prospect Kevin Fiala, who scored at a point-per-game pace as a seventeen-year-old at last year's world juniors and is currently scoring about two points every three games for HV71 in the SHL. Noah Rod, drafted by San Jose in the second round, hasn't put up particularly impressive numbers at the professional level, but has performed well in international competition.

While other teams attempt to develop familiarity among players in exhibiton games, Switzerland's offence should get kickstarted early thanks to the pre-established chemistry between Schweri and Wieser.

After the team arrived in Canada on Friday for their pre-tournament games, The San Jose Sharks released Mirco Mueller to join his national junior squad. The defenceman has three points in the NHL this season and will play a lot of top-quality minutes for Switzerland.

Weaknesses

There is a lot of turnover from the 2014 tournament. with only five players on the roster who participated in last year's event. After the team cut four of its oldest players to complete the twenty-three man roster, over half of the players are under the age of nineteen whereas most teams will be utilizing players at the upper end of the age range in this under-twenty tournament. That relative lack of experience could show itself in undisciplined play or blowing leads when the on-ice play is not adjusted to the game situation, especially on the defensive side with only three returning defencemen and none of the three goaltenders having any previous world junior experience.

X-Factor

Switzerland will likely be seen as one of the weaker teams by its opponents; a break from the likes of Sweden and Russia. This club possesses too much offensive talent to be taken lightly, and if a team makes that mistake, it could find itself with a multi-goal deficit quickly.