As you may have guessed by all of my columns lately, it’s tournament season! This is one I normally wouldn’t be previewing for you guys, but with the recent news that Dante Fabbro will be skating for Team Canada, I found it necessary.
The Spengler Cup has been hosted by the Swiss club HC Davos nearly every year since 1923. Originally founded as a tool to promote German-speaking hockey clubs, the tournament took on a life of its own and has been a holiday tradition ever since. Notable tournament alumni include Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, and Jonas Hiller.
This year’s tournament features six teams: the host HC Davos [NLA], the Czech team HC Ocelari Trinec [Czech], the Russian club HK Metallurg Magnitogorsk [KHL], the Finnish club Kalpa Kuopio Hockey Oy [Liiga], Team Canada, and the German club Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers [DEL].
Below I’ll preview the tournament’s entrants and what to expect from Dante Fabbro.
HC Davos [NLA]
2018-19 Record: 7-18-0-0
Davos is entering this year’s tournament no longer the sole leader of most Spengler Cup championships. Last year, Team Canada won their third straight to tie HC Davos for 15 wins all-time.
Things are not looking promising for the Swiss club this year either. Davos currently sits 11th in the NLA standings out of 12 teams with seven wins (just six in regulation) and 18 total losses.
Davos is led in scoring by Swiss forward Inti Pestoni, who has six goals and 18 points in 25 games. The roster also features Luca Hischier—brother of the Devils’ Nico Hischier—and former Nashville netminder Anders Lindbäck, who has a 0.896 save percentage and a 3.45 goals-against average in 20 games.
Davos made three roster additions for the tournament as well: defender and American Olympian Bobby Sanguinetti; former Predator Linus Klasen, who should boost their offense; and Swiss forward Dario Simon.
HC Ocelari Trenic [Czech]
2018-19 Record: 20-7-2-0
Trenic enters the Spengler Cup as an absolute powerhouse sitting in first place in the Tipsport Czech League with 20 wins. Trenic also played in this year’s Champions Hockey League after finishing just shy of the championship game in 2017-18. They didn’t fare as well there, going 1-4-1 in six games of group play.
They’re led offensively by Martin Ruzicka, who has seven goals and 20 points in 19 games, and former NHL defender Lukas Krajicek, who has five goals and 20 points in 22 games. Additionally, keep your eye on 17-year old forward Adam Raska, who is eligible to be drafted in 2020.
HK Metallurg Magnitogorsk [KHL]
2018-19 Record: 28-13-1-1
The former club of Vladislav Kamenev has been playing well this season in the Eastern Conference of the KHL, where they sit fourth with 64 points. This is a younger roster with an average age of 25.3, but is the only other club aside from Davos and Canada to have previously won the Spengler Cup. They did so in 2005.
Metallurg is led by KHL star and Blue Jackets draft pick Sergei Mozyakin, who has 677 points in 571 KHL regular season games in his career, including 14 goals and 38 points in 42 games this season. Former Milwaukee Admiral Matt Ellison is second in team scoring with 14 goals and 35 points in 43 games. The defense is led by former Sabre Viktor Antipin, who is rumored to be considering a return to the NHL next season. Finally, Pavel Dorofeyev is a young forward who will be a high draft pick this June; he’s skated in 14 games for Metallurg but spent most of his season in the MHL with their affiliate.
Kalpa Kuopio Hockey Oy [Liiga]
2018-19 Record: 11-15-0-8
KalPa, a club found almost as old as the Spengler Cup (founded in 1929), is struggling to find its footing in the Finnish Liiga this season. They sit 11th in the standings currently with 11 totals wins. However, the club is only four points out of a spot in the top ten, meaning a chance to compete for the preliminary playoffs. A strong Spengler Cup performance for the club owned by Kimmo Timonen, Sami Kapanen, and Scott Hartnell could boost the rest of their season.
On offense, KalPa is led by Eetu Luostarinen, with eight goals and 20 points in 30 games, and Kai Kantola, with six goals and 19 points in 29 games. Goaltending will be covered by former World Junior Championship star, the Slovakian Denis Godla. Additionally, keep your eyes on Blue Jackets prospect Alexandre Texier, who was drafted 45th overall in 2017.
Team Canada [IIHF]
Team Canada is in search of their fourth straight Spengler Cup, which would be the second time they have achieved said feat. And the roster is certainly ready to compete. With loads of NHL and AHL experience, Team Canada is likely considered the favorite, but the teams from Russia and the Czech Republic may surprise.
Canada’s offensive touch will come from Zac Dalpe, who has 28 points in 29 AHL games this season; Chris DiDomenico, who has 27 points in 26 NLA games; and Andrew Ebbett, who has 22 points in 24 NLA games.
The defense corps is an interesting one, especially with the addition of Predators prospect Dante Fabbro. It is a tad unprecedented but unsurprising for Fabbro to join Team Canada while on break from his Boston University schedule. He will be one of two NCAA players on the roster, joining Western Michigan forward Colt Conrad.
Fabbro, despite being the youngest by seven years, is the best skater Canada has on defense, and I expect him to be featured heavily—especially on the power play. His partner will be an interesting choice, with the likes of Kevin Bieksa, Simon Despres and Patrick Wiercoch as options.
Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers [DEL]
2018-19 Record: 11-17-2-1
The Nurnberg-based team has also been mediocre to start the season, sitting in 11th place out of 14 teams in the German DEL. The Ice Tigers also played in the Champions Hockey League this season, going 3-3 in six games in group play.
The Ice Tigers are led in scoring by Leo Pfoderl, with 11 goals and 22 points in 31 games, and Jason Bast, with eight goals and 21 points in 30 games. The roster features heavy NHL and AHL experience, including Milan Jurcina, Shawn Lalonde, and former Predators Brandon Segal and Taylor Aronson.
The tournament starts on December 26 when Trinec and Magnitogorsk face off and Canada plays Davos. Play will conclude with the championship game on New Year’s Eve. The tournament is streamed on TSN and has been shown on YouTube in the past. Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for broadcast updates and highlights.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and spenglercup.ch.