The imaginary NHL Olympic roster projections for 2022 come to a close, for real this time. Team Switzerland rounds out the eight nations comprising the top of the current IIHF men’s rankings. My other lineup projections:
The Swiss roster doesn’t absolutely dazzle, but it’s compromised mostly of players with NHL experience, can ice a deadly first line and, factoring in all-world defenseman Roman Josi, can put together an exciting top power-play unit. Picture something like Meier-Hischier-Fiala-Josi-Niederreiter. Not bad at all. If this group got good enough goaltending and developed strong line chemistry, it could be a fringe medal threat. Ages as of Feb. 4, 2022.
FORWARD LINE 1: Timo Meier (25), Nico Hischier (23), Kevin Fiala (25)
A legitimately dangerous first line. Meier loves to shoot, Fiala has now fully realized his potential as a higher-end scorer at the NHL level, and Hischier serves as the playmaker with a mix of two-way IQ that should be more mature in two years.
FORWARD LINE 2: Sven Baertschi (29), Pius Suter (25), Nino Niederreiter (29)
Baertschi and Suter are offense-minded guys, while Niederreiter blends scoring with some size and jam on the forecheck.
FORWARD LINE 3: Gregory Hofmann (29), Gaetan Haas (30), Sven Andrighetto (29)
This could be a sneaky-effective line. All three forwards have good speed. Haas and Andrighetto bring two-way acumen, and Hofmann has natural scoring touch.
FORWARD LINE 4: Simon Moser (32), Calvin Thurkauf (24), Denis Malgin (25)
Why bury the established NHLer Malgin on the fourth line? His 200-foot-game and board play just work better on this unit, which includes the big, hardworking Moser and the physical Thurkauf.
SPARE FORWARDS, Philipp Kurashev (22), Tristan Scherwey (30)
Skilled scorer Kurashev has already impressed at the world juniors and World Championship, not to mention major junior, and could be Olympic-ready after a couple seasons in the AHL. It was painful to cut the experienced Andres Ambuhl, but he’ll be 38 during the 2022 games, so I went with another speedy but much younger forward in Scherwey, who also adds some grit.
Final cuts: Andres Ambuhl, Noah Rod, Joel Vermin, Denis Hollenstein, Simon Bodenmann, Alessio Bertaggia, Vincent Praplan
DEFENSE PAIR 1: Roman Josi (31), Luca Sbisa (32)
Josi is, far and away, the team’s featured player. A heavy-hitting blueliner with NHL experience makes sense to pair with Josi given he’s a rover who functions like a fourth forward much of the time.
DEFENSE PAIR 2; Jonas Siegenthaler (24), Yannick Weber (33)
Siegenthaler’s smooth-skating, pass-first game should blend well with the righty Weber’s big shot. Neither plays an overly complicated style. Not a flashy pair, but they should limit the mistakes, too.
DEFENSE PAIR 3: Mirco Muller (26), Raphael Diaz (36)
Muller hasn’t reached the ceiling his prospect pedigree promised, but he’s perfectly capable as a big, mobile bottom-pair guy here. Diaz is obviously long in the tooth but captained the Swiss at the 2018 Olympics, so I have him still making the team for his leadership and experience.
SPARE DEFENSEMEN: Dean Kukan (28), Ramon Untersander (31)
Kukan can fill in as a meat-and-potatoes guy, while Untersander has more offense to his game and shoots from the right side.
Final cuts: Yannick Rathgeb, Michael Fora, Tobias Geisser, Dominik Egli
STARTING GOALTENDER: Reto Berra (35)
Berra has represented the Swiss at seven world championships, so he’s earned a crack at the No. 1 job in best-on-best play.
BACKUP GOALTENDERS: Gilles Senn (25), Leonardo Genoni (34)
I strongly considered Senn for the starting gig, but he hasn’t been dominant enough at any level. Genoni has been named the NLA’s best goalie four times and has great career numbers at the worlds, too.
Final cuts: Gauthier Descloux, Tobias Stephan, Joren van Pottelberghe
ROSTER AT A GLANCE
Spares: Kurashev, Scherwey
Spares: Kukan, Untersander
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