2021/22 was the best Swiss NHL season in history

Meier, Josi and Fiala had a really strong season.Image: imago, keystone, shutterstock; edit watson

Analyse

The Swiss mercenaries in the NHL have never been as successful as this season. This is also reflected in the rating.

30.04.2022, 12:5930.04.2022, 14:34

Adrian Buergler
Adrian Buergler

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As always, before the start of the season in October, we published our analysis and forecast of the situation of Swiss players in the NHL. The reactions at the time: We were too generous. “One expects 68 points here, isn’t that a bit much?” or “in my opinion you are far too optimistic,” it said.

We now know that Roman Josi, Kevin Fiala, Timo Meier and Co. not only met our forecasts, but far exceeded them. The Swiss have never been so dominant in the best ice hockey league in the world.

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Roman Josi

80 games, 96 points, including 23 goals

watson forecast: 58 points, including 14 goals

Pulverized. Roman Josi didn’t just exceed our expectations, he simply pulverized them. The season played by the Bernese defender was downright historic. He became the first defender to break 90 points since Ray Bourque in 1993-94. In the meantime, even the 100-point mark seemed within reach.

The captain is the heart of the Nashville Predators game and was involved in over 36 percent of all his team’s scorer points. That’s the third-highest tally by a defenseman in NHL history. As every year, the 31-year-old dominates the league when it comes to the transition game. No player in the NHL puts the disc in the offensive zone more often and nobody creates more chances that way.

The only reason Josi isn’t already the clear winner of the Norris Trophy for best NHL defenseman is because the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar is also having a historic season. He couldn’t quite keep up with the Swiss in terms of points, but is more convincing when it comes to actual defending.

Note: 6,0*

* If we could, we would give it a 6.5.

Kevin Fiala

82 games, 85 points, including 33 goals

watson forecast: 68 points, including 31 goals

We were close in goals, but Kevin Fiala has had a lot more assists than we expected this season. After a rather weak start to the season, the eastern Swiss kept improving and with an incredibly strong final spurt in the regular season he was even able to put some pressure on Roman Josi in the Swiss scorer ranking.

What distinguishes Fiala’s game? According to the analysis by “JFreshHockey”, the 25-year-old is one of the most dangerous strikers in the NHL if he and his linemates manage to establish themselves in the opposing zone over the long term. Thanks to his outstanding skating, he is also extremely dangerous in the transition game. Fiala is the first Swiss forward to collect more than one point per game over an entire season in the NHL.

Note: 6,0

Nico Hischier

70 games, 60 points, including 21 goals

watson forecast: 55 points, including 20 goals

He’s back. In his first full season as captain of the New Jersey Devils, Nico Hischier was finally able to play to his potential again. Overall, the season was disappointing for his team, which was mainly due to weak goalies, but for Hischier this season was a success.

On the one hand, he finally remained without a major injury. On the other hand, the longer the season lasted, the better he played. Since the beginning of February there have only been a few games in which the Valais player has not scored a point. In addition, he always convinced with his commitment and fighting spirit. He’s really established himself as a captain.

Note: 5,5

Timo Meier

77 games, 76 points, including 35 goals

Prognosis: 56 points, including 24 goals

Meier also played well above our expectations throughout the season. With 76 points in 77 games, the Appenzeller would have pulverized any Swiss point record in the NHL – if it hadn’t been for Josi and Fiala. Meier was unsurprisingly the Sharks’ best scorer with some distance behind Tomas Hertl.

The 25-year-old power striker was extremely dangerous offensively. With him on the ice, the Sharks had 23 percent more chances than the league average. It is somewhat surprising that Meier has hardly been able to show his strength in the power play this season. A bit bitter: In the last game of the season, Meier fell below the one point per game mark.

Note: 6,0

Nino Niederreiter

75 games, 44 points, including 24 goals

watson forecast: 37 points, including 19 goals

Niederreiter is also one of the many NHL Swiss who has exceeded our expectations. He may not have skated as often as he did in Minnesota, but his role hasn’t been as small as it was this year at Carolina.

Nino Niederreiter celebrates with Jordan Staal.

Nino Niederreiter celebrates with Jordan Staal.Bild: keystone

The Chur striker averaged just over 14 minutes of ice time per game and was often used in the Hurricanes’ nominal third line. Nevertheless, it was a good season for the Swiss overall. Whenever he was on the ice, Carolina created many chances. And of course it’s a luxury for the Hurricanes to be able to use a player like Niederreiter like that.

Note: 5,0

Dean Kukan |

41 games, 11 points, including 3 goals

watson prognosis: 11 points, including 2 goals

direct hit! Almost. Kukan scored eleven points as predicted, but scored one goal more than we predicted. Nevertheless, the Zurich defender’s season should be seen as a disappointment. Despite departures in the Columbus defense, the 28-year-old was again unable to establish himself as a regular at Columbus and again only played half of the possible games. His contract expires in the summer and it is still unclear what will happen next.

Had to watch often again: Dean Kukan.

Had to watch often again: Dean Kukan.Bild: keystone

Note: 4,0

Pius Suter

82 games, 36 points, including 14 goals

watson prognosis: 42 points, including 18 goals

One of the few NHL Swiss who fell short of our expectations. The Detroit Red Wings have struggled with consistency all season and Pius Suter was no exception. The Zurich striker sometimes showed very strong games, but then again had phases in which he did not succeed very much.

Suter's influence on the game.  Left the results of 2020/21, right the results of 2021/22.  Red is better on top, blue is better on bottom.

Suter’s influence on the game. Left the results of 2020/21, right the results of 2021/22. Red is better on top, blue is better on bottom.Bild: hockeyviz.com

Not only has Suter’s point production collapsed compared to his rookie season in Chicago, he was also less convincing in other respects. He had less influence in attack than last year and was also less able to play his defensive qualities.

Note: 4,5

Jonas Siegenthaler

71 games, 14 points, including 1 goal

watson prognosis: 8 points, including 1 goal

We were close with our forecast. Siegenthaler even collected a few more scorer points than we had expected. But what is even more impressive is that the Zurich native has established himself as one of the most stable defensive defenders in the league. With Siegenthaler on the ice, the Devils conceded 2.17 goals per 60 minutes – a top 30 value in the league.

If you look at Goals Above Replacement (GAR) – a kind of summary statistic that includes various other statistics – the 25-year-old is even the defensive defender with the best influence in the whole league. Siegenthaler has also won the hearts of Devils fans with his intelligent performances.

Note: 5,5

Grégory Hofmann

24 games, 2 goals, 5 assists

watson prognosis: 38 points, including 19 goals

Unlike Pius Suter and Dominik Kubalik, Hofmann was not able to take the momentum from Switzerland to North America. He struggled to really establish himself with the Columbus Blue Jackets and establish himself on the smaller North American ice field. It clearly undercut our optimistic forecast. After the birth of his first daughter, Hofmann left North America and returned to Zug.

Note: 3,0

Philipp Kurashev

67 games, 21 points, including 6 goals

watson forecast: 28 points, including 11 goals

Philipp Kurashev was one of the big Swiss surprises as a rookie in Chicago last year. The young Bernese striker wasn’t really able to improve this year, but he was able to repeat his performances from the previous season. In addition, he has shown himself to be even better defensively and has increased his offensive influence, even if that hasn’t really been reflected in his point production.

Philipp Kurashev played as well as last season.

Philipp Kurashev played as well as last season.Bild: keystone

Note: 4,5

Janis Moser

49 games, 15 points, including 4 goals

Watson Prognosis: Will have a chance at NHL appearances later in the season

Moser clearly exceeded our forecast. Not only did he get the chance to play in the NHL, he grabbed it right away. Almost 50 games and 14 scorer points in the first appearances in the NHL are a strong mark.

Bild: keystone

In certain areas, the Bieler, who will soon be 22, also learned the hard way. With Moser on the ice, the Arizona Coyotes have allowed 3.37 chances against per 60 minutes of play. This is the highest and therefore the worst value of all defenders in the team. So the defender has to work on his defensive game for the next season.

Note: 5,0

Sven Bärtschi

1 game, 0 scorer points

watson prognosis: 15 points, including 7 goals

We were too optimistic for Bärtschi’s season. Despite many injury worries in the team, the Langenthal striker was only used once for the Golden Knights. In his just over 13 minutes of NHL playing time, Bärtschi remained without a scorer point.

No grade

Akira Schmid

6 games, 83.3 percent catch rate

Watson Prognosis: Spends all season in the AHL

Our prediction would actually have been the plan of the New Jersey Devils. The two young goalkeepers Akira Schmid and Nico Daws should have developed in the AHL. But injuries threw a spanner in the works for the Devils. Akira Schmid was thrown in at the deep end at the end of 2021 and had to step in behind a team that was in trouble at the time. The statistics look bad, but you can’t expect Schmid to be at NHL level. In the AHL, the 20-year-old convinced with good performances.

Akira Schmid was thrown into the ice-cold water at the New Jersey Devils.

Akira Schmid was thrown into the ice-cold water at the New Jersey Devils.Bild: keystone

Note: 4,0

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