NLA pre-season rankings

NLA pre-season rankings

06 Sep 2016 | Luis Lopes

who's the big favorite to go all the way and win it all?


1. Zurich Lions

Probably the strongest team ever assembled in the Swiss league during the recent years. A great coach (Hans Wallson) who has proved himself in the Swedish Hockey league with Skellefteå. A great goalie (Lukas Flueler), who has proved himself valuable in this year's Champions Hockey League. One stabilized defense, with the full-time inclusion of David Rundblad and a team of forwards that makes a lot of people jealous in Switzerland. All those fifteen forwards are internationals for their countries. Thorensen(Djurgårdens), Kenins(Canucks), Pestoni(Ambri) and Sjorgren(Bars Kazan) are the new faces in a team that was already strong offensively

2. Bern 

Finnish legend Kari Jalonen is the new Bern coach for this year. Between the the pipes there is now the former Davos goalie Leonardo Genoni. International player Jeremie Kamerzin (Fribourg) and Canadiens' blue liner Maxim Noreau(San Antonio Rampage) join this year's champions. After the depart of NHL star Kris Versteeg the team is now looking for a fourth foreign player to join the ex NHL Mark Arcobello (Toronto Meaple Leafs) as the new face in the attacking line. 

3. Lugano 

Contrary to the last ten years Lugano is now a stabilized team and a declared contender to win the championship.  Goalie Elvis Merzlikins at 22 is just getting started. The Columbus Blue Jackets drafted him in his ascension into the NHL. After a 92.2% year at age of 21 it only can get better for him. In defense Daniel Sondell (Zug) is the new blue-liner for a team that was already the best in the business in a power-play situation. In forwards position Dario Burgler (Zug) an excellent power-play player and Swedish Patrick Zackrisson(Skellefteå). 

4. Zug 

Zug had seen some main changes this off season as the quarter finals from last year's edition weren't enough for a team like them. Daniel Sondell gave place to Swiss blue-liner star Rafhael Diaz (Hartford Wolf Pack). Dario Burgler plays now for Lugano and was replaced by ex NHL prospect Karl Klingberg (Torpedo Novgorod) and the main loss Pierre-Marc Bouchard (who had to stop his career due to repeated concussions) was replaced by Canadien David Mcyntire (SaiPa). 

5. Davos 

Leonardo Genoni isn't there anymore. And Arno Del Curto did what he does best: inventing himself, getting some new players without spending to much money, like he did in 2008. After the depart of Jonas Hiller (at the time Leonardo Genoni and Reto Berra signed with the team), Davos has now two young goalies. 20 years old Gilles Senn seems to be the new starting goalie. The other goalie has also a lot of potential. 19 years old Joren Von Pottelberghe(Linkoping), drafted for the Detroit Red Wings, will give Arno Del Curto a lot of potential between the pipes. Swedish Daniel Rahimi (Linkoping) and Czech player Robert Kousal (Metallurg Novokuznetsk) are the two other new foreigners. 

6. Fribourg 

The Dragons' team will be a tough one to beat. And it wouldn't be a surprise to see them in the top four in this year's regular season. The defense loses Kamerzin for Bern, but in exchange they did get two (Larri Leeger and Ralph Stalder) very important defensive minds part of Lausanne's success into the play-offs in the recent years. Czech star Roman Cervenka (Pirati Chomutov) and ex NHL Swedish prospect from Sweden, Mattias Ritola (Skellefteå) as well as Anton Gustafsson(Langnau) are the new faces in attack. 

7. Geneva 

Geneve's legend coach Chris McSorley is like Davos' Arno del Curto. When they lose important players, the Canadian coach always find a way to get players to form a competitive team. Goran Bezina (Zagreb) isn't there anymore but McSorley counts with the young big defense(Chuard and Petschenig) to get the relay into the new Geneva era. Mike Santorelli (Anaheim Ducks) and Nick Spalling(San Jose Sharks) are the new foreign players. Also besides Noah Rod and Damien Riat (recently drafted), Kay Schweri (Sherbrooke Phoenix) is the new kid in town to watch. 

8. Biel 

The biggest disappointment in last year's league seems to have some real ambitions for a play-off spot this year. Jonas Hiller (Calgary Flames) is the new face for the team. Biel wanted to make a point in the free-agency market to prove last year was an accident and the Swiss star goalie was a great catch for the team. With Mike Lundin (Barys Astana) Biel gets an important player to stabilize the defense and give power-play a new dimension. Jakob Micflikier and Toni Rajala from Lulea are new faces in attack to make Biel forget last year's nightmare. 

9. Ambrì

Ambrì is a experienced team, very tough to beat especially at home. Goalie Sandro Zurkirchen is one of the best goalies in the league. And Ambrì counts on him to steal once again some important points with some big saves. The defense seems to be the same in terms of quality. Pestoni signed with Zürich and Alexandre Giroux plays now in KHL for Zagreb. But D'Agostini (from Geneva) and Jane Pesonen (Skellefteå) are certainly a big addiction for the club. Guggisberg, Bastl and Kostner were added to try to forget young star Inti Pestoni. There are also high hopes for the progression of Czech player (with Swiss licence) Lukas Lhotak. 

10. Kloten 

Due to financial problems for the historic NLA team, the season could be a long one. The team starts only with three foreign teams. Bob Sanguinetti (Rochester Americans) and Drew Shore (Stockton Heat) are the new foreigners. Von Guten, Hollenstein and Bieber are still a guarantee of quality in the team. 

11. Lausanne 

Heinz Ehlers, the coach of the last three seasons, had a well stabilized defense. The new coach Dan Ratushny(Salzburg) has a lot to prove. Swedish defender, Jonas Junland(Linköping), forward Per Ledin (Salzburg) and Canadian Dustin Jeffrey (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) were added to prove that the bets against the team for a play-off spot are wrong. 

12. Langnau

Canadian coach Scott Beattie saved the Tigers last year against Biel and got a deserved contract. The season will not be easy but the Tigers have a fighting spirit that always gets wins and points to allow them to continue in the Swiss top league. Randegger and Pascal Berger come from the champions SC Bern. In the foreign ranks Rob Schremp (Portland Pirates) and Brendan Shinnimin (Springfield Falcons) are now the new faces. 


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