World Juniors Preview (Flyers Prospects)
The Philadelphia Flyers could have as many as nine prospects participating for their country at the upcoming 2017 World Junior Championship in Canada. Let’s take a look at who these prospects are and what kind of roles they are expected to play with their respective teams.
Mikhail Vorobyov (Team Russia): The 19-year old Russian centerman was a lock to make Team Russia, as he will almost certainly be their 1st line center. It will be tough for other teams to contain Vorobyov’s 6-foot-2, 210lb frame. He will likely play alongside his teammate in the KHL, Kirill Kaprizov. Kaprizov is a draft pick of the Minnesota Wild who is having an incredible season in Russia’s top league. This makes for a deadly duo on the Russian top-line. Don’t be surprised if you see these two names at the top of the point scoring leaders when it’s all said and done.
Vorobyov’s Season Stats (Salavat Ufa, KHL): 36GP, 3G, 7A, 10PTS, +2
German Rubtsov (Team Russia): The Flyers’ first round pick has dealt with lack of ice time in the KHL all season long. This may be his time to shine. Rubtsov was not a lock to crack Russia’s roster, as he is the youngest player on the team. Since Russian head coach Valeri Bragin prefers older players, expect Rubtsov to play a bottom-6 role along with some penalty kill time. Rubtsov’s struggles at the faceoffs likely mean he ends up on the wing, which just shows his versatility. Rubtsov scored a goal in Russia’s 2-1 pre-tournament victory over Denmark.
Rubtsov’s Season Stats (HC Vityaz, KHL): 0G, 0A, 0PTS, -4
Rubtsov’s Season Stats (Russkie Vityazi, MHL): 15GP, 7G, 8A, 15PTS, +2
David Kase (Team Czech Republic): Kase was a question mark after suffering a punctured lung with the World Juniors less than a month away. Luckily for him, he is fit and ready to go for the tournament, and should play a big role. He played one pre-tournament game where Czech Republic were shut-out 4-0 by Team USA. Kase has played extremely well for his country in past tournaments. The skilled and gritty 19-year old winger will likely be on the Czech top-line and may even be their team captain.
Kase’s Season Stats (Pirati Chomutov, Czech Extraliga): 16GP, 3G, 4A, 7PTS, -1
Tanner Laczynski (Team USA): Team USA chose to keep 169th overall pick Tanner Laczynski on their roster instead of 11th overall pick Logan Brown and 39th overall pick Alex DeBrincat. Incredible, to say the least. Laczynski will likely play 4th-line center for Team USA, along with some time on the penalty kill. He tallied one assist in Team USA’s 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic in pre-tournament action. The 6-foot-1 center/winger is having a fantastic season with Ohio State, and it has earned him a spot on Team USA’s stacked forward group.
Laczynski’s Season Stats (Ohio State. NCAA): 15GP, 6G, 16A, 22PTS, +15
Philippe Myers (Team Canada): Myers went undrafted in the 2015 NHL draft, and just 18 months later, he is on Team Canada’s top-defensive pair for the World Juniors. Myers is proving to be a steal of a free agent signing by Ron Hextall. Most say that if nobody signed Myers, he would be a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL draft. Myers was not a lock to make Team Canada, however. He played extremely well in the pre-tournament and has seemed to found some chemistry with Senators’ prospect Thomas Chabot. The 6-foot-5 smooth skating defenseman will likely play top minutes 5v5, along with some powerplay and penalty kill time for Canada.
Myers’ Season Stats (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL): 19GP, 8G, 10A, 18PTS, +9
David Bernhardt (Team Sweden): Team Sweden have yet to announce their full roster, and will not do so until Sunday. The Swedes have a strong defence, so Bernhardt has roughly a 50% chance of making it. If the 19-year old defenceman does indeed crack the Swedish blueline, he will likely play a top-6 role along with some powerplay time.
Bernhardt’s Season Stats (Djurgardens, SHL): 21GP, 2G, 5A, 7PTS, +4
Bernhardt’s Season Stats (Djurgardens J20, SuperElit): 9GP, 4G, 8A, 12PTS, +4
Carter Hart (Team Canada): Hart is expected to be Canada’s starting goalie for the World Juniors. He played extremely well for them in pre-tournament action, aside from a game against Switzerland, where he surrendered 3 goals on 15 shots. Even after a sub-par game like that, Hart should still have an edge over Connor Ingram as the Canadian starter. The second-round pick of the Flyers has terrific numbers with Everett this season, and the World Juniors will be a big test for him.
Hart’s Season Stats (Everett, WHL): 16-3-0, 1.85 GAA, .928sv%, 4 SO
Felix Sandstrom (Team Sweden): There is no doubt that Felix Sandstrom is going to be the Swedish starting goaltender. His numbers in the SHL recently have been spectacular, and he is coming off a 22-save shutout in a pre-tournament game against a deadly Russian offence. Sandstrom did not play particularly well in last year’s World Juniors, however that could have been due to the fact that he was dealing with an illness at the start of it. He will be looking to play better this time around and hopefully lead Sweden to their first goal medal since 2012.
Sandstrom’s Season Stats (Brynas, SHL): 9-2-0, 2.00 GAA, .918sv%
Matej Tomek (Team Slovakia): Tomek has yet to play a meaningful game in his career at North Dakota due to a logjam in the crease. He may get his chance here at the World Juniors, however in all likelihood he will be Slovakia’s backup to Adam Huska, who is having a great season at the University of Connecticut. There is some hope for Tomek, as Huska allowed 8 goals in Slovakia’s final pre-tournament game. We’ll have to wait and see who Slovakia decides to be their starter.
Tomek’s Season Stats (University of North Dakota, NCAA): N/A
The tournament gets underway on December 26th. Here is a look at the two groups:
Czech Republic (David Kase)
*Sweden (David Bernhardt and Felix Sandstrom)*
Canada (Philippe Myers and Carter Hart)
Russia (Mikhail Vorobyov and German Rubtsov)
Slovakia (Matej Tomek)
USA (Tanner Laczynski)