Though some have called Switzerland a rising hockey power over the past few years, that ascension seems to have halted. Of course Switzerland had two Top-15 Picks over the last two years in the NHL Entry Draft, but both Nino Niederreiter (NYI) and Sven Baertschi (CAL) left Switzerland at the age of 17 and made the biggest progress in their development in North America.
Several Players have begun to realize, that the bloated Swiss Junior League isn't challenging enough to take the next step in their respective development and they aren't receiving the necessary roles nor ice time in the Swiss National League. A total of eight Swiss Players played major junior in the CHL this season and four went to the SuperElit Junior League in Sweden. Out of North America, Swiss forwards Tanner Richard, Alessio Bertaggia, and Sven Andrighetto have a small chance to get picked by a NHL-Team.
Below are the top European trained Swiss players eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft.
1. Christoph Bertschy, RW, SC Bern (NLA)
5'10 – 170lbs, Shoots: R
Christoph Bertschy enjoyed his breakthrough season, earning a roster-spot in the Team of the SC Bern in the highest Swiss National League, where he and his team where one win away from winning the Swiss Championship. He also made the Swiss Team for the under-20 World Junior Championship as an underager. The right-shooting offensive forward is not known for his two-way game, but is a power-play specialist and does everything he can to create an offensive opportunity through good forechecking. Bertschy is an average skater with decent top-end speed and has the reputation of being lazy, as he doesn't look like the most motivated player during practice or because of his lack of backchecking during games. The diminutive winger possesses quick hands and a hard and accurate wrist shot, which he uses as his primary weapon in the offensive zone. Based on his offensive-skills, he could turn out into a late-round project for a NHL-Team.
2. Dean Kukan, D, Lulea (SEL)
6'2 – 198lbs, Shoots: L
One of four Swiss Players to leave Switzerland last season and play in Sweden and did he benefit from that move. After toiling around in the National League B, Kukan has failed to make any progress in the past years. New surroundings and a different hockey school seemed to reignite his will and has formed him into a decent puck-moving defenseman. His good puck-moving skills and his ability to make an upright first pass, combined with the Swedish defenseman-school made him grow into a player who can influence a team's offensive game. His good play in the Swedish SuperElit Junior League has earned him a pro-contract for the upcoming season with Luleå and he received a call to the preliminary-camp of the Swiss National Team and played his first games for the senior National Team. Kukan has a respectable 6'2 frame, but still could add a few more pounds to get stronger to handle the bigger forwards in front of the net. Despite his size you could tag him as a soft defenseman, as you won't see Kukan lay out his body very often.
3. Samuel Walser, C, Kloten Flyers (NLA)
6'3 – 205lbs, Shoots: L
Samuel Walser just completed his first full season in the National League A and totally has beaten of the sophomore slump. The 6'3 and 205 lbs forward centered the fourth line and was able to score 11 goals in 46 games, which tied him for third in team scoring. Three of his goals where game-winners, as he has the ability to play at his best during clutch-moments. Walser plays a responsible two-way game and thanks to his long reach is effective on both the forecheck and backcheck. The left-shooting pivot displays nice vision and playmaking skills to round out his offensive game. He needs to improve his play at the faceoff-point if when he wants to become a top-6 forward who takes crucial draws late in the game.
4. Joël Vermin, RW, SC Bern (NLA)
5'11 – 185lbs, Shoots: L
At the 2012 under-20 World Junior Championship Joël Vermin led the Swiss National Team in Scoring and helped them avoid relegation. The slick forward started red-hot into the season and was among the team leaders in goals-scored until WJC. Despite his good stats, the WJC-tournament didn't go as planned as the team collapsed in the decisive game against Slovakia and it seemed that Vermin didn't recover from that trauma, as he had problems to find his form from the early season again. Vermin has to work on his consistency and keep struggles away from him to become a prolific scorer.
5. Dario Simion, LW/RW, HC Lugano (NLA)
6'1 – 187lbs, Shoots: R
Dario Simion was one of two underaged forwards who played for the under-20 World Junior Championship-team and battled hard during the tournament. Simion is a sound skater and not afraid to go into hot-areas as he tries to play a power-forward's game. Despite his nice 6'1 frame, Simion isn't a heavy hitter so far as he sometimes shies away from contact. Completed his first full season with Lugano of the National League A and didn't look out of place, as he often caught the crowd's attention with good efforts in every shift and decent skating.
6. Christian Marti, D, Kloten Flyers (NLA)
6'3 – 203lbs, Shoots: L
After several injuries on the National League A-defensive core of the Kloten Flyers, Christian Marti made his debut in the highest Swiss league and from that moment on, earned every minute of ice time and finished the season in the pros. Thanks to his size and strength, Marti didn't have problems handling the forwards in the NLA, but from time to time was looking for a special play and tried to do too much. Martin Needs to work on his consistency and try to avoid his defensive woes. There are rumors circulating that if the financially troubled Kloten Flyers are not able to play next season in the Swiss National League A, Marti would grab his chances and take the jump to North America.
7. Lukas Sieber, LW, HC Davos (NLA)
6'0 – 176lbs, Shoots: L
Lukas Sieber was a surprise addition to the National League A-team of Davos and played all but two-games for the second best team during the regular season. A typical role player who does everything asked of him, Sieber isn't afraid to lay out his 6' body or crash the net to screen the goaltender and look for rebounds. The winger is also able to get under opponents' skin, with his nasty play and trash talking. Needs to improve his average skill-set and skating to stick with the big club in Davos and definitely should benefit from the higher pace in the National League A.
8. Samuel Guerra, D, HC Davos (NLA)
6'1 – 190lbs, Shoots: L
Because of a groin injury, Samuel Guerra missed the 2012 World Junior Championship, which would have been his second competition for Switzerland. With his stellar defensive play, Guerra could turn into a solid shutdown defenseman. Has decent size and his body play has improved steadily over the past seasons. Guerra is next year already looking at his third full season with Davos in the National League A.
9. Anthony Rouiller, D, EHC Biel (NLA)
5'9 – 161lbs, Shoots: R
Anthony Rouiller played his first game in the National League A at the age of 16 and got another 10 game cup of coffee this season. Rouiller plays the game of an offensive defenseman and his strength is his hard slap shot. The diminutive blueliner excels on the power play, where he's able to organize the play and shows good patience and vision. Rouiller is somewhat fragile, as he always misses time with injuries. He was a late cut from the Swiss under-20 team for the World Junior Championship.
10. Luca Boltshauser, G, Farjestad (SEL)
6'0 – 176lbs, Catches: L
Boltshauser completed his first season in the Swedish SuperElit-league with Färjestad and received a pro-contract for the upcoming season in Sweden. Boltshauser is an average-sized goaltender, who shows decent lateral movement and good composure even when his team is under pressure. Having backstopped the ZSC Lions to the Elite B Junior-Swiss Championship in 2010-11, he is penciled to be the starter for the Swiss team for the upcoming World Junior Championship.