Ice Hockey: Who is this Swiss who should be called up in the first round of the NHL?

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hockey on iceWho is this Swiss who should be called up in the first round of the NHL?

Solothurn advocate Lian Bichsel (18) describes herself as a gorilla. She measures almost two meters and weighs 102 kilograms. The draft will start this Thursday night through Friday in Montreal.

Lian Bichsel is a giant player with exceptional qualities.

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Will a ninth Swiss be chosen in the first round of the NHL championship draft, which will take place Thursday night at the Bell Center in Montreal?

Solothurn defender Lian Bichsel (18th) will join Michel Riesen (Edmonton, 14th in 1997), Luca Sbisa (Philadelphia, 19th in 2008), Nino Niederreiter (NY Islanders, 5th in 2010), Sven Bärtschi (Calgary, 13th in in 2011), Mirco Müller (San Jose, 18th in 2012), Kevin Fiala (Nashville, 11th in 2014), Timo Meier (San Jose, 9th in 2015) and Nico Hischier (New Jersey, 1st in 2017) in the circle that Swiss skaters summoned in the first round of the auction?

Despite the inevitable secrecy that surrounds a draft, the hypothesis is likely. Ranked the 9th best European skater among eligible players in 2022 by NHL Central, Bichsel appears to be gaining interest since the Combine (physical testing) held from May 30th to June 4th in Buffalo, USA. “He got 3rd place in these tests”, underlines his agent, Frédéric Holdener.

“In the past month, scouts and general managers from NHL clubs have called me frequently.”

Mikael Karlberg, Lian Bichsel’s coach in Sweden

Assistant coach at Leksands in Sweden, the top division club Bichsel skated with in 2021-2022, Mikael Karlberg measures the Swiss full-back’s appeal on a daily basis. “For a month, scouts and general managers from NHL clubs called me frequently,” explains the former Fribourg-Gottéron striker. It’s not uncommon for some of our players to appear on the NHL’s radar. But in this case, the search for information is particularly extensive.

But who is Lian Bichsel, this former HC Olten junior, who briefly passed through the HC Bienne training pyramid (with whom he skated a few minutes in the National League at age 16) before continuing his development in Sweden?

He compares himself to a gorilla

Since his stint at Buffalo, Bichsel has been interviewed by all 32 clubs in the North American professional league and has had the opportunity to answer that question several times in those sometimes surprising moments “I had to throw candy in the trash, he smiles. they asked which animal I felt closest to. I answered the gorilla because I am a physical and powerful player. He is 1.98m tall and weighs 102kg. “He is a very physical player, testifies Mikael Karlberg. But he is mobile, fast to enlarge. It is the prototype of the modern hockey player, a rare profile.

Lian Bichsell.
imago/Bildbyran images

A description corroborated by Bichsel, who landed on Wednesday at Montreal’s Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport before repeatedly arguing with recruiters. “I am characterized by my physique and my power. I like to fight for every puck on the ice and control the game with passing and skating.”

Among the professionals in a twist of fate

Lian Bichsel’s development accelerated at the start of the 2021-2022 campaign. At Leksands, he was expected to spend most of the season in the youth ranks. “But two of our backs were injured during training, continues Karlberg. We gave Lian a chance and he took it. Although he suffered a fall in form in November, a normal occurrence at his age, there was never the possibility of sending him back to the juniors.

What to be optimistic about before the recap. “I speculate about a selection in the middle of the first round, around 15th place”, projects Karlberg. A generous prediction, as most experts believe that the Swiss’s name will be articulated between the 22nd and 32nd rankings.

If he was not called up in the first round, Bichsel will have to wait a night to find out the identity of his future club, with the other six rounds of selections being scheduled for Friday.

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