Luca Sbisa, Nino Niederreiter, Sven Baertschi, Mirco Mueller. Since 2008, Switzerland has had more success in the first round of the NHL Draft than Slovakia or the Czech Republic, the two countries that hosted the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and two of the hockey nations generally regarded as being stronger than Switzerland. If this trend continues, the Swiss may well surpass those two nations.
It has been a strong season for Swiss hockey. Not only did they reach the quarterfinals at both the junior and senior levels, but they even managed, for the first time in almost a century, to be the runner-up for the senior World Championship title. But this recent and unexpected success does not mean that everything in the junior development system is rosy, and that Switzerland will produce NHL-caliber prospects for the next decade.
The preliminary round has come and gone at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, and Groups A and B each featured one fairly dominant team.
For two years running, Switzerland’s U18 team hasn’t been able to prevent itself from winding up in relegation round play. Once there, the teams have been able to finish on top and thus, seventh overall in the tournament. This year’s team is confident it can get over that hump and it will look at the performance of its U20 team in Ufa for inspiration.