2022 IIHF World Juniors Preview: Switzerlandby Carson Babbini December 27, 2021 2 comments
Things are going to be tough for the Swiss in this year’s IIHF World Juniors tournament. After finishing last in their group last year, Switzerland would’ve been in the relegation game, but the IIHF decided not to have a relegation game due to COVID-19.
Things aren’t any easier for Switzerland this time around as they are in Group B with the United States, Russia, Sweden, and Slovakia. Keep in mind, at the time this is being written Switzerland has not yet released the resubmitted roster after a player had a positive COVID-19 test. Nonetheless, let’s take an in-depth look at what Team Switzerland could look like when they hit the ice.
Make sure to check out all of our other IIHF World Juniors Previews.
The forward group will most likely be captained by Joel Henry, who will make his World Juniors debut. He currently plays for GC Kusnacht Lions in the Swiss League and is capable of being an offensive leader, scoring 14 points in 19 games. He will no doubt be a huge part of the offense for Switzerland. But he obviously can’t be the only offensive contributor for head coach Marco Bayer.
That’s where Lorenzo Canonica comes into play. Canonica, who was undrafted in the 2021 NHL Draft, was a member of the Switzerland team last year but didn’t make a huge impact with only one point in four games. He has shown his offensive prowess this year playing for the Shawnigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, scoring 27 points in 29 games. He’ll need that kind of scoring touch for Switzerland to have any kind of chance in group play.
The defensive core will be led most likely by Lian Bichsel. He is a 2022 draft prospect who is anticipated to be drafted early in the draft. He currently plays in the SHL in Sweden for Leksands IF and has one point in 12 games. Bichsel has international play experience being a former captain of the Swiss U18 and U16 teams, which will be very helpful to adjust to the World Juniors. Bichsel should come into the tournament extra motivated to continue to raise his draft stock and cement himself as a top defenseman with a great performance in the World Juniors.
One of the few, if not the only, drafted players on the team is Brian Zanetti. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and will make his World Juniors debut. Zanetti currently plays in the OHL for the Peterborough Petes and has nine points in 17 games. He also has leadership experience in international play, which is great for the locker room because you certainly can never have too many leaders.
This could be the biggest wild card of the Switzerland team because it really is anyone’s guess as to who could be the starter. Andri Henauer is the only goaltender who has some World Junior experience, albeit it was mostly as the third in last year’s trio. He has been playing with EHC Winterthur in the Swiss League but has also been bouncing around this season on loan. Henauer, in his time with Winterthur, has a .914 save percentage and a 3.25 goals against average. Henauer also has experience in the Hlinka Cup, so his experience may give him the edge.
The goaltender with the second-best odds to start is Kevin Pasche. Pasche is playing for the Omaha Lancers in the USHL, and currently holds a .916 save percentage and a 2.20 goals against average. The likely third goaltender in the trio is Loic Galley. Galley is currently playing for Gotteron U20 in the U20-Elit league in Switzerland and has a 2.96 goals against average.
Player to Keep an Eye On
Lian Bichsel, 17, Defenseman, Leksands If(SHL)/2022 Draft Eligible
As mentioned earlier, Bichsel is more than likely the highest-profile name on the Switzerland team. He also has the most to gain from a quality performance in the tournament. While Bichsel may not have the offensive statistics, he is still an offensive threat. It also will help that Bichsel has a 6’5″, 216 lbs frame that he can use on both ends of the ice. If the big defenseman has a good performance in the tournament, he could easily sneak his way into the first round of the draft.
Switzerland plays Russia right away to start their tournament today. They will then play the United States tomorrow, Slovakia on Thursday, and Sweden on Friday to round out their group play. The Swiss are lucky that the IIHF has decided not to have a relegation again this year because they would most likely be in the relegation game. While they may not have to worry about relegation, they won’t make it out of group play.
Prediction for Switzerland: Relegation/No Playoffs
Follow Carson Babbini on Twitter @cbabs1120
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images