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Top 25U25: Swiss defenseman Yannick Rathgeb is #23

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Swiss defenseman Yannick Rathgeb will play hockey in North America for the first time since the 2014-15 OHL season.

Plymouth Whalers v Sarnia Sting
He’s the one facing forward.
Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

It’s hard to tell where the New York Islanders organization might see a defenseman like Yannick Rathgeb long-term. An easy path to the NHL is blocked by the Isles’ crowded blue line, which I’m pretty sure has been mentioned in every T25U25 article so far.

However, Rathgeb comes with a lot of experience for a 22-year-old defenseman. He played two seasons in the OHL with the Plymouth Whalers, where he went undrafted after the 2013-14 season and again after the 2014-15 season. He then turned to his native Switzerland, where he’s played the last three seasons for Fribourg-Gotteron HC in the Swiss National League, the top professional league in the country.

With Fribourg, he’s scored 89 points in 133 games, and was the league’s best rookie in 2015-16. His 2017-18 season was cut short by a clavicle injury that required surgery.

Jenny Spizzwolf Noel Fogelman Travis Flynn CIL Mike B LHH HockeyGoalieEh garik16 Dominik Steve
24 23 22 H.M. 21 20 H.M. 12 - 16 19

As a former World Juniors captain and with a few very good pro seasons under his belt, Rathgeb could either find himself in Bridgeport to serve as an injury call-up, or be the 7th defenseman in the press box. At only 22, he should be getting game time to continue his development, so we’ll see where he ends up. He has some good potential as an offensive defenseman going forward for the Islanders.

Rationales

Mike B:

Dart number two finds Anything Backer... uh... Angry Nike Batch... wait... Yannick Rathgeb. I liked his signing, as an alternative to the "Grab a fading vet to be a turnstile on the blueline" M.O. of prior years. Has played for the Swiss National Team and in Canadian Juniors, so should be able to adjust quickly.

HockeyGoalieEh:

A guy who has been stellar in the National League, the Islanders signed him for a song as a right handed defenseman. He's quite good. Unfortunately Pelech and Mayfield are blocking him, but he's likely better than they are already. He'll be an NHL player, it's just not certain when or where.

CIL:

Rathgeb is a former captain of the Swiss WJC national team. He was a decent two-way Dman at that level. He played in the OHL for a couple of seasons, four and five years ago prior to returning to Europe for the last three seasons, where he has put up decent offensive numbers. He has NHL size, has always like the physical side of the game, and scouts claim he was one of the best young RD in Europe. Maybe another potential sleeper? Beyond that, I haven't seen him play since the WJCs.

Previously:

#24: Young Finn Robin Salo

#25: Solid defenseman Kyle Burroughs

The Roster Cuts