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Promising year ahead for Swiss hockey

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND -- The upcoming season looks like it could be a special one for Swiss hockey.  Having produced back-to-back first-round NHL draft picks for the first time - in Mirco Mueller (2013,18) and Kevin Fiala (2014, 11) - Switzerland is on a roll.

To kick off the new season, both the under-18 and under-20 teams got together to prepare for the upcoming campaign.  Judging from the performances at this summer's camp, the 1997-born class combined with the late 1996-born players - could easily be called one of the deepest the country has ever produced.

Here are some standouts who should come into consideration as the 2015 NHL Draft gets closer.

Auguste Impose (2015), LW, Geneve-Servette (Sui) -- An explosive skater with quick legs and tremendous acceleration .. easily shakes off opposing challengers by just speeding up with two or three strides .. an offensively-talented winger who stands just 5-foot-9 in height - yet is strongly built for his size .. a tenacious forechecker who utilizes his speed as well as an active stick to put opponents under pressure .. not easy to shake off as he can make abrupt stops and sharp turns to stay in hot pursuit .. shows poise in possession of the puck, however tends to be speculative and take risks as a passer .. will just toss a puck to the front of the net and can look like a genius if there happens to be a teammate there - but basically will make a blind pass with no recipient in mind .. will need to develop his hockey sense and a better understanding of the tactical side of the game .. nevertheless, he is still a playful performer never shy about trying gambles with 1-on-1 moves - and exploit the time and space that his breakaway speed affords .. the diminutive winger is looking at his first taste of NLA-Hockey with Geneva-Servette for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

Roger Karrer (2015), D, ZSC/GCK Lions (Sui) -- Played at the Under-18 World Junior Championships as a double-underager - and was a big element in the Swiss game .. a tremendous skater with very good first steps as well as solid mobility .. able to make abrupt stops at full speed and can make a quick change of direction to shake off an opposing forechecker - all while maintaining good control of the puck .. plays a smart and calm game - rarely over-reacting while moving the puck out of his zone to launch a new attack .. not overly large by NHL standards at 5-foot-11 - and will need to improve his physical play as he doesn't involve his body at all for his hitting game .. does compete though - and isn't afraid to go into the corners and battle for pucks, even if he lacks the strength yet to have a chance and relies mainly on using an active stick instead of his body .. does possess all the tools to become a very good puckmoving defenceman .. Karrer will start the season in the Swiss National League B with the GCK Lions and could very well get a taste of NLA-Hockey if he continues to make the same kind of progress.

Denis Malgin (2015), C, ZSC/GCK Lions (Sui) -- A playmaking forward who possesses excellent vision and strong hockey sense .. owns a soft set of hands which provide great puck control and is poised in possession while deking through traffic .. a marvelous puckmover, as he is able to pick up the puck at full speed in his own zone and execute an end-to-end rush, deking through the last line of defence and usually creating a dangerous scoring chance .. displays an uncanny feel for making the right play - and seemingly always making the right decision .. knows when to take a shot if he sees a hole - or opt for a pass otherwise - while demonstrating a strong awareness of where his teammates are on the ice .. brings a well-rounded game - with his smallish 5-foot-9 stature as well as weak shot being his only substantial weaknesses ..  drafted by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the 2014 CHL Import Draft, however has decided to stay in Switzerland for the coming season with an outside chance to play in the Swiss National League A with the powerhouse ZSC Lions in Zurich.

Damien Riat (2015), LW, Malmo Redhawks (Swe) -- A skilled winger who plays a sound two-way game .. boasts impressive puckhandling abilities and protects the puck well with his 6-foot, 165-pound frame, however will have to bulk up and get stronger in order to better hold off players along the boards .. gains decent top-end speed thanks to powerful strides, but could use some work on his explosiveness and first couple of steps .. a tenacious forechecker who will not quit until he has the puck .. utilizes either his speed or physical play to remove his opponent from the puck as he isn't afraid to throw his body around .. owns a hard and accurate wrist shot with a quick release - and is a proactive shooter who will fire when he has the chance .. looking to make the next step after spending the past two seasons with the Notre Dame Argos program and, despite being drafted in the recent CHL Import Draft by the Val-d’Or Foreurs, will move to Sweden and join the junior team of the Malmo Redhawks.

Pius Suter (2015), C, Guelph Storm (OHL) -- Enjoyed a successful first season in North America - helping the Guelph Storm compete for the Memorial Cup .. made big progress last season and is developing nicely into a solid two-way center who can contribute both offensively and defensively .. possesses decent acceleration and reaches a respectable top speed within a few strides .. only average sized at 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, but definitely looks stronger on the ice .. battles hard along the boards and effectively uses his compact positioning and strength to hold his ground .. not afraid to move forward into the hot areas in front of the net to score dirty goals and is often the first player to challenge the goaltender for rebounds .. owns a hard and accurate shot with a quick release and operates as more of a finisher as opposed to a playmaker .. will pursue his career with a second year in Guelph and is looking for his first U20 World Junior Championship appearance were he should be used in a top-six offensive role.