Expect a higher profile for Switzerland at the next draft, and particularly following an impressive sixth-place finish at the recent 2013 World Junior Championship in Russia.
It’s been seven years since more than two Swiss-born players were selected in an NHL draft – and nine years since four were taken.
That would be way back in 2004 which is incidentally the year Montreal hit a home run on Mark Streit with the 262nd overall pick.
Aside from Everett import defender Mirco Mueller, a projected top pick, there’s a good chance that Rouyn-Noranda star Sven Andrighetto won’t be bypassed again. Other overagers such as big winger Mike Kunzle (Dec `93) and Christian Marti of Blainville-Boisbriand (Mar `93) could also draw late-round attention.
In preparation for the WJC in Russia, Team Switzerland held a preliminary selection camp in snowy Lenzerheide where McKeen’s correspondent Rafik Soliman was on hand to watch Mueller and another pair of potential draftees in Sandro Zangger and Vincent Praplan.
Mirco Mueller (2013, D), Everett – plays the game of a puckmoving defenseman .. brings a nice combination of size and mobility – and still has plenty of room to strengthen his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame – in order to better handle the rougher North American game .. plays a calm and poised game .. always has his head up in order to keep track of where opponents and teammates are on the ice .. proficient at making a good first pass .. known for his on-ice leadership – and named captain of the Swiss under-18 team .. tends to overplay situations at times and will try and do too much in his own zone .. can be prone to giveaways, especially when under heavier pressure, as he will hold the puck longer in search of free space – instead of playing a pass to a mate .. made his National League A debut last season with the Kloten Flyers at the age of 16 – appearing in a total of seven games .. named to the 2013 U20 WJC-team of Switzerland – making his debut at the tournament.
Sandro Zangger (2013 RW), GCK Lions – one of the big risers in Switzerland, the right-shooting forward is emerging more and more into a scoring forward with decent size .. made his debut this season in the National League A with the ZSC Lions .. possesses a good wrist shot, however his accuracy still needs work .. only an average skater though – and lacks foot speed .. not overly big at six-foot and 185 pounds, however he has gradually developed a solid mean streak over the years and isn’t afraid to throw his body around in the corners – or crash the net looking for deflections and rebounds .. Zangger will draw attention from NHL scouts due to his skills as he possesses soft hands and can create scoring chances with slick moves and dekes .. made his pro debut at the age of 17 in the National League B with the GCK Lions – and has worked his way into a top-six role this season.
Vincent Praplan (2013, RW), Kloten Flyers – a slick and clever forward with a sharp nose for the net .. seems to always be in the right position to score a goal .. made his debut this season with Kloten in the National League A – and currently is among the leading goal scorers in the Swiss Junior Elite A-League .. a decent skater who also possesses soft hands and fine puck control .. however, he also plays quite a soft game and shies away from body checks .. only average sized at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds .. will need to bulk up in order to stand his ground and not get pushed around .. selected to play in his first WJC – and likely to start as the spare forward.
Phil Baltisberger (2014, D), ZSC Zürich Lions – named to the 2012 Swiss WJC-Team as a double underager, where he played the role of the seventh defenseman .. boasts the ideal size and strength for pro hockey, already well-developed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds .. only an average skater in terms of speed however .. needs to improve his acceleration as he requires several of his powerful strides to reach top gear .. owns a heavy shot from the blue line – powered by his excellent strength .. still must learn how to effectively use his frame to full advantage, as he is quite raw in this area – and basically still a boy captured in a man’s body .. after his debut and full season in the Swiss National League B as a 15 year old, he is currently in his second season with the GCK Lions .. with a new coaching staff, Baltisberger wound up being the final selection for the 2013 U20 WJC team in Russia.