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Scouting is not an exact science and career predictions about 16 to 20-year-old teenagers are really tricky… but this is exactly what NHL-scouts have to do and this is also what makes it fun to read. 

Photo  Thomas Roost

It’s also fun to bash the “experts” in a couple of years if they were wrong ;-) So, I will do exactly this. In September of 2016, I will now predict which players Swiss players, born between 1996 and 2000, will be NHL-regulars sooner or later. Here we go:

Nico HISCHIER, C, 1999 – Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL

The smartest young Swiss player I've ever seen. He has very good overall skills, a great hockey sense, and already a pretty developed two-way-play. He is smart, humble and is a great overall athlete. This is a bold and risky prediction for a 17-year-old player but I still dare to say he will be the first Swiss first- or second-line centerman in the NHL.

Nico GROSS, D, 2000 – EV Zug

He has a good size, good skating skills, good mobility. Moreover, he is extremely calm, never gets rattled, so he is a no stress-player with good offensive tools as well. He could develop into a complete two-way defenseman. I see some of Roman Josi in him.

Timo MEIER, F, 1996 – San Jose Sharks

The Swiss answer to typical North American power-forwards. It’s not clear yet which role Timo Meier will play in the NHL but it is undisputed but he has “NHL” written all over him. He still has to fine-tune his overall speed and shot release.

Tobias GEISSER, D, 1999 - EV Zug

The former power forward now turns heads as a big, towering defenseman. If the early performances as a “fresh” defender are any indication for his future: Wow… he will have tons of NHL-scouting-visits this season. However, he must still work on his quickness and his shot but he really has some great tools. I like his overall strength, puck-movement, and vision. This might be a little bit of a risky pick at this point because of still limited observation of this converted power forward in his new role as a hulking defenseman.

I’m most confident with these four players at this point but there are also others with decent chances of becoming NHL-regulars, I call them the “honorable mentions.”

Honorable mentions:

Damien RIAT, F, 1997 – Genève-Servette HC / Washington Capitals

Damien Riat is probably the young Swiss player which improved the most over the last 12 months. He has a decent pair of hands, an ok shot, and his passing-game is also good. What he improved the most is that he started to crash the net. He is not avoiding the rough stuff anymore as much as he did two years ago.

Noah ROD, F, 1996 – Genève-Servette HC / San Jose Sharks

He plays with grit and a rather nasty edge which will make him survive in the NHL. Does he have NHL- skills and can he improve his play without the puck? Maybe.

Jonas SIEGENTHALER, D, 1997 – Washington Capitals

He has a lot of tools to succeed in the NHL: Size, strength, skating, mobility, and composure. But he must improve his quick thinking to execute quick enough. I wish him a little bit more passion, temper, and more “smoke-eating” mentality.

Kevin FIALA, F, 1996 – Nashville Predators

He is a super skilled offensive sparkplug but lowered his respect with untimely behavioral issues. There is no question that he can skate. He can make plays and he can shoot the puck. On the other hand, he still has to improve his game without the puck. This coming season is crucial for him. If he is not in the NHL by the end of the season, I guess he will be on the European player-market sooner than later.

Denis MALGIN, F, 1997 – Springfield Thunderbirds / Florida Panthers

A soft pair of hands, silky-soft skating, excellent playmaking and underrated lower-body-strength… but… is he mentally and overall tough enough? Is he ready to go the extra mile? Is he good enough overall to overcome his size deficit? Maybe

Calvin THUERKAUF, F, 1996 – Kelowna Rockets / Columbus Bluejackets

Next to Riat, he is the most improved Swiss junior player of the last 12 months. He plays and looks like a professional. He has a North-American style and uses the body to his advantage. He protects the puck well and has a decent shot. The overall skill-level is still a question-mark as is his transition game with the puck, but, yeah, maybe he will succeed!

There are a couple of players born in 2000 which also have the potential to become an honorable mention. I quite like our 2000 age group. Of course, there are maybe between 20 and 30 additional players with a good shot which could become pro-players in our top league. But here, in this column, I just write about players who will probably end up as NHL-regulars in their careers or,at least, have a good chance to do so.

Who do I miss? Goalies.

For some reason, there are no goalies with an international level in the age-group 1996 to 2000 at this point. Joren Van Pottelberghe, the new HC Davos goalie, Matteo Ritz (Lausanne HC ) and Gauthier Descloux (HC Ambrì-Piotta) might be exceptions. But Van Pottelberghe and Ritz still have a lot to learn and Descloux is a bit undersized and still tends to overcommit his plays. I hope there are goalies which will emerge out of the blue, which is never impossible.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Thomas Roost (@thomasroost) was born in 1960 and lives in Horgen, Zurich. Since 1995 he has been working as NHL-scout for Central-Scouting Europe, since 2010 also as scout for EHC Biel in the National League A.


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