Switzerland has rather quietly been becoming a better country at producing quality hockey players and teams. While their international ranking and play may not reflect that, what does is the number of stars they have currently in the league, and the amount of players they have had get drafted to the NHL over the last few years.
2010 Olympic Roster:
|66||G||Ronnie Rüeger||186 cm (6 ft 1 in)||89 kg (200 lb)||26 February 1973||Bülach||Kloten Flyers (NLA)|
|1||G||Jonas Hiller||188 cm (6 ft 2 in)||86 kg (190 lb)||12 February 1982||Felben-Wellhausen||Anaheim Ducks (NHL)|
|52||G||Tobias Stephan||188 cm (6 ft 2 in)||82 kg (180 lb)||21 January 1984||Zurich||Genève-Servette (NLA)|
|5||D||Severin Blindenbacher||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)||88 kg (190 lb)||15 March 1983||Zurich||Färjestad (SEL)|
|16||D||Rafael Diaz||182 cm (6 ft 0 in)||88 kg (190 lb)||9 January 1986||Baar||Zug (NLA)|
|54||D||Philippe Furrer||186 cm (6 ft 1 in)||90 kg (200 lb)||16 June 1985||Bern||Bern (NLA)|
|72||D||Patrick von Gunten||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)||83 kg (180 lb)||10 February 1985||Biel||Kloten Flyers (NLA)|
|47||D||Luca Sbisa||185 cm (6 ft 1 in)||80 kg (180 lb)||30 January 1990||Ozieri, Italy||Portland Winterhawks (WHL)|
|31||D||Mathias Seger – A||181 cm (5 ft 11 in)||84 kg (190 lb)||17 December 1977||Flawil||ZSC Lions (NLA)|
|7||D||Mark Streit – C||183 cm (6 ft 0 in)||95 kg (210 lb)||11 December 1977||Englisberg||New York Islanders (NHL)|
|77||D||Yannick Weber||178 cm (5 ft 10 in)||88 kg (190 lb)||23 September 1988||Morges||Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL)|
|10||F||Andres Ambühl||176 cm (5 ft 9 in)||85 kg (190 lb)||14 September 1983||Davos||Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL)|
|18||F||Thomas Déruns||186 cm (6 ft 1 in)||86 kg (190 lb)||1 March 1982||La Chaux-de-Fonds||Genève-Servette (NLA)|
|17||F||Hnat Domenichelli||183 cm (6 ft 0 in)||82 kg (180 lb)||16 February 1976||Edmonton, Alberta, Canada||Lugano (NLA)|
|35||F||Sandy Jeannin – A||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)||83 kg (180 lb)||28 February 1976||Les Bayards||Fribourg-Gottéron (NLA)|
|67||F||Romano Lemm||182 cm (6 ft 0 in)||86 kg (190 lb)||25 June 1984||Dielsdorf||Lugano (NLA)|
|25||F||Thibaut Monnet||183 cm (6 ft 0 in)||83 kg (180 lb)||2 February 1982||Martigny||ZSC Lions (NLA)|
|23||F||Thierry Paterlini||184 cm (6 ft 0 in)||96 kg (210 lb)||27 April 1975||Chur||Rapperswil-Jona Lakers (NLA)|
|28||F||Martin Plüss||174 cm (5 ft 9 in)||80 kg (180 lb)||5 April 1977||Murgenthal||Bern (NLA)|
|32||F||Ivo Rüthemann||172 cm (5 ft 8 in)||76 kg (170 lb)||12 December 1976||Mosnang||Bern (NLA)|
|39||F||Raffaele Sannitz||187 cm (6 ft 2 in)||93 kg (210 lb)||18 May 1983||Lugano||Lugano (NLA)|
|86||F||Julien Sprunger||194 cm (6 ft 4 in)||87 kg (190 lb)||4 January 1986||Grolley||Fribourg-Gottéron (NLA)|
|14||F||Roman Wick||187 cm (6 ft 2 in)||85 kg (190 lb)||30 December 1985||Zuzwil||Kloten Flyers (NLA)|
2014 Olympic Group:
Group C-> Czech Republic (3), Sweden (4), Switzerland (9), Qualifier 1
2014 Olympic Roster:
Switzerland's roster starts with their stud in net, Jonas Hiller. The Swiss also have 2009 WJC Best Goaltender Benjamin Conz as a solid backup option as their previous one, Ronnie Rueger, will be over 40 by 2014. Hiller will be 32 by the time the 2014 Olympics start and well he did have a down year (in part because Anaheim on the whole was dreadful), the Swiss are more then likely still going to have one of the premier goaltenders in the league bailing them out.
Remember, this is a team that was in Group A during the Olympics, a group that featured the two teams from the Gold Medal game that tournament (Canada, USA). They took Canada to a shootout, won their first elimination game against Belarus and only lost 2-0 to USA in their next game.
This team has some spunk, and some promise heading into 2014.
The defense will still be led by Mark Streit. Well he is aging and will probably be on the downside of his career once 2014 hits (some might argue he already is), the positive is that he'll still be able to run a powerplay regardless of age and he wont be asked to do as much.
In Nashville, the big benefactor of losing Ryan Suter will be Roman Josi. I don't want to write a player profile on Josi, but I'll say this: he's 6'2, nearly 200 pounds, only 22 years old, has shown he can put up points at the pro level (40 point year in 69 AHL games), and he's going to get a huge opportunity now with the Preds.
The defense should be returning their other four players from the 2010 Olympics which can only be a good thing. Rafael Diaz, Yannick Weber and Luca Sbisa are all young, improving players who already have experience on the international stage should bode well for the Swiss. After that, there will be no shortage of players to round out the unit, whether it be the burly veteran Blindenbacher or the younger guys in Phillipe Furrer, Patrick von Gunten or Tobias Stephan.
It's obviously not a lights out unit, but it's a relatively serviceable one if they can get elite goaltending. The unit comes out to something like this:
The forwards is where things get most interesting though. More then anything the Swiss will be counting on the emergence of two young player who are both first round picks: Sven Baertschi and Nino Niederreiter. Would any of the top countries be counting on two players this young and inexperienced? No. But Switerland isn't a top country.
After their top two prospects (both of which possess first line NHL upside), there are some other players worth noting here. The first guy to note is Damien Brunner. He's 26 years old and he just signed with Detroit this summer after leading the Swiss-league in scoring. Regardless of if he makes his mark in the NHL, Brunner has been a good international hockey player, for example, he had seven points in seven games this year during the IIHF tournament to lead his team in scoring.
The next player to look at is the guy who finished with one point less, and that's Kevin Romy. Not only did he put up some points, but he's a center who won almost 60% of his draws in the tournament. Barring something unforeseen, he will most likely go into the tournament as Switzerland's top center. He actually plays on the same Swiss team as former NHLer and Canadian-turned-Swiss Hnat Domenichelli.
Beyond these four, there is one time AHL-toiling Roman Wick formerly of the Ottawa Senators who has some skill and even put up 42 points in 70 AHL games. The Swiss also have Benjamin Pluss, the younger of the Pluss brothers, should also figure to make the team. His brother Martin Pluss may make it as well. They will be 33 and 35 respectively in 2014.
Many in North America will also remember Julien Sprunger, not because the 6'4 Swiss has some game, but because this hit by David Backes on him. On top of Sprunger, Switzerland will also be looking for centers Morris Trachsler and Thibaut Monnet to contribute down the middle. Plus there are other forwards who have international experience and game in Ivo Ruthemann and Simon Moser.
2014 Olympic Chances:
The 2014 Olympics will be all about prepping for the 2018 Olympics (which sounds weird, but that's where Switzerland is in their development). The hope by 2018 is that Baertschi and Niederreiter are both top flight NHL wingers well some Swiss prospects like Gregory Hoffmann, Christoph Bertschy and Tanner Richard develop; well young D-men Josi, Sbisa, Diaz and Weber continue to improve. To have any hope of even coming close to medaling Switzerland will need Jonas Hiller to be superhuman and for Mark Streit to be one of the best players in the tournament. Their forwards lack the scoring talent to cover up mistakes by outscoring problems. But they do have an okay back-end, a great goalie and will be playing on the international ice. The Swiss are always a pesky team to play and surely wont be an easy out, but in a group with Sweden and the Czech Republic, they are already behind the eight ball. That said, the way they took it to Canada and USA in 2010, I wouldn't count them out completely. Especially if Baertschi is the game breaker many think he can be.