Flyers

Future Flyers Report: World Junior Championships roundup

Future Flyers Report: World Junior Championships roundup

The World Junior Championships wrapped up Thursday night with the United States beating Canada, 5-4, in a shootout in the gold medal game for its fourth-ever gold. 

Now that the tournament is over, we’re providing another edition of the Future Flyers Report, from the quarterfinals and the medal rounds.

Tanner Laczynski, C, 6-1/191, Team USA
Laczynski walks away from the world juniors with a gold medal, and his story is quite impressive. He was not a lock to make Team USA, but impressed at camp in the summer and then worked his way onto the team at the evaluation camp.

His role with the U.S. was small — fourth-line center — but he played well in that position. He had to miss the semifinal game against Russia because of an illness but was able to get back into the lineup Thursday night for the gold medal game.

The Ohio State freshman played just 8:17 and a team-low 12 shifts in the shootout win over Canada, but nonetheless, he’s a gold medal winner.

WJCs stats: 7 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 8 shots on goal, 2 PIMs, plus-2

Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Team Canada
Goalie controversy and Philadelphia hockey tend to go hand in hand, so it was only fitting for Hart to be involved in one with Canada. Dominique Ducharme opted to start Connor Ingram in the quarterfinals vs. the Czech Republic and semifinals vs. Sweden.

The roll of the dice, if you will, worked out against the Czechs, though Ingram was nothing special in the quarterfinal matchup. It nearly cost Canada in the semis. Ingram yielded two goals on three shots in the first nine minutes to Sweden, and that was all Ducharme needed to see from the Kamloops netminder and replaced him with Hart.

Hart settled the Canadians down in the opening period and helped Canada go into the first intermission tied with a loaded Sweden club, 2-2, with 13 first-period saves. He added 12 more — many of the difficult variety — in the second, as Canada went up 3-2. He made just four saves in the third period, but Hart saved Canada from elimination. He stopped all 29 shots Sweden threw his way and earned the Player of the Game honors.

One night later, Hart got the starting nod against the U.S. in the gold medal game, a contest that needed a skills competition to decide the winner. Hart gave up four goals on 35 shots and the lone goal in the shootout to Troy Terry, who went 4 for 4 in shootout attempts in the semifinals and gold medal game. It was another matchup in which Hart was terrific in net for Canada, and one of those in which he did not deserve to lose.

WJCs stats: 7 games played, 3-0-1, 2.38 goals-against average, .906 save percentage

Philippe Myers, D, 6-5/209, Team Canada
As expected, Myers did not play in either the quarterfinals or semifinals for Canada because of a concussion he suffered in the preliminary round against the United States.

Myers will return to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL, where his playing status remains in question because of his head injury. With it being his second concussion of the year, Myers’ health the remainder of the 2016-17 season will be worth watching.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall recently said, via Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, that instead of being proud of signing Myers, the team is asking why it didn’t draft him in the first place.

WJCs stats: 4 games played, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 shots on goal, 4 PIMs, plus-1

German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Team Russia
Rubtsov’s world juniors ended after the quarterfinals. The Flyers’ 2016 first-round pick missed Russia’s semifinals 4-3 shootout loss to the U.S. because of a concussion.

In Russia’s 4-0 win over Denmark on Monday, Rubtsov received a high hit and suffered the head injury. He reportedly has a broken nose in addition to the concussion.

Rubtsov has gotten out of his KHL contract and is coming to North America to play for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the QMJHL, according to Stephane Leroux of Montreal TV station Réseau des sports.

WJCs stats: 5 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 shots on goal, 0 PIMs, minus-1

Mikhail Vorobyov, C, 6-2/207, Team Russia
There might not have been a Flyers prospect at the world juniors more impressive than the Flyers’ 2015 fourth-round draft pick who led the tournament with 10 assists.

Vorobyov picked up two assists in Russia’s quarters shutout win over Denmark Monday and added another in Wednesday’s 4-3 shootout loss to the United States. He also scored in the shootout against the U.S., a goal that did put Russia up, 2-1, in the SO.

Against Denmark, Vorobyov set up Russia’s first and second goals in the first period to set the tone to a smooth 4-0 win. In the quarterfinals tilt, he showed some power, protecting the puck behind the net before dishing it to Kirill Kaprizov, who finished the first-period tally.

Russia earned the bronze medal with a 2-1 overtime win over Sweden Thursday afternoon, and Vorobyov figured into Russia’s only regulation goal with a primary assist 16 seconds into the second period on another Kaprizov marker.

WJCs stats: 7 games played, 0 goals, 10 assists, 8 shots on goal, 4 PIMs, plus-6

Felix Sandstrom, G, 6-2/187, Team Sweden
An incredible semifinals showdown between Sweden and Canada that featured tremendous goaltending from Sandstrom and Hart, both Flyers prospects.

Sandstrom faced an onslaught from Canada once Hart entered the game and provided a calming presence for the Canadians, and turned in several eye-popping saves.

The Swedish netminder finished with 38 saves in the 5-2 semifinals defeat, allowing four goals — Canada’s fifth goal came with an empty net. None of the four goals Sandstrom yielded were fluke goals, either, as Canada created all quality scoring chances.

It was a strong tournament for Sandstrom, who lost just one game and was named the Goalie of the Tournament. On Monday, he stopped 15 of 18 shots in Sweden’s 8-3 win over Slovakia. Sweden fell short in the bronze medal game, but Sandstrom again was fantastic, making 24 of 26 stops.

WJCs stats: 7 games played, 4-1-1, 2.17 goals-against average, .915 save percentage

David Bernhardt, D, 6-3/203, Team Sweden
After a decent showing in the prelims, Bernhardt was a minus-2 in the quarterfinals and semifinals while logging no more than 14:40 of ice time — against Canada.

Bernhardt saw just 3:51 minutes in the third period against Slovakia on Monday, a game that Sweden pulled away early, and 4:30 in the final stanza against Canada. He was pointless in both games.

Still, not a terrible tournament for a seventh-round draft pick. Bernhardt flashed some signs of being a North American player as he ages, but he’ll take a while to develop.

WJCs stats: 7 games played, 0 goals, 3 assists, 15 shots on goal, 4 PIMs, plus-6

Matej Tomek, G, 6-3/183, Team Slovakia
Despite playing well in the preliminary round, Tomek did not start nor see action in Slovakia’s 8-3 loss to Team Sweden on Monday, a game that saw 50 shots thrown at the Slovakian net. Rangers prospect Adam Huska made 42 stops in the loss.

Tomek returns to the University of North Dakota, where the sophomore has yet to play in a regular-season game in two years at UND. His play in this tournament is a bright spot for his perspective as a goalie prospect. An encouraging world junior for him.

WJCs stats: 2 games played, 0-2-0, 3.50 goals-against average, .913 save percentage

David Kase, RW, 5-11/170, Team Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic’s 5-3 loss to Canada on Monday, Kase opened the scoring in the first by taking advantage of a strange bounce off an official’s hip and onto his stick.

Kase’s goal — his second of the tournament — allowed the Czechs to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, though the Canadians eventually took control in the second.

Now, Kase returns to Piráti Chomutov of the Czech Extraliga, where he has not played in a game since Dec. 2 and then Oct. 31 before that because of an injury. 

WJCs stats: 5 games played, 2 goals, 1 assist, 12 shots on goal, 4 PIMs, minus-1

Flyers acquire defenseman Justin Braun in trade with Sharks

Flyers acquire defenseman Justin Braun in trade with Sharks

After doing heavy work to the Flyers' defense last weekend, general manager Chuck Fletcher said the team was going to continue to look at "every available option" to improve its blue line.

He wasn't kidding.

Fletcher on Tuesday traded for Sharks defenseman Justin Braun, sending San Jose a 2019 second-round draft pick and a 2020 third-round selection.

The Flyers now have eight selections in this weekend's draft. The move comes after the Flyers traded Radko Gudas on Friday in exchange for defenseman Matt Niskanen and parted ways with Andrew MacDonald on Saturday via unconditional waivers/contract buyout.

Braun is 32 years old and on the final year of a five-year, $19 million deal with a cap hit of $3.8 million. He has appeared in 84 career playoff games and has played 20-plus minutes a night over San Jose's last five postseason runs. He is a stay-at-home righty shot with a 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. Braun shares the same agent as Niskanen and knows James van Riemsdyk, who texted him after the trade.

"We are excited to add Justin to our group of defensemen," Fletcher said in a release by the team. "He is a high character, quality defender who will bring a steadying presence to our team."

Fletcher is clearly putting an emphasis on players with experience in winning environments, guys who can influence the Flyers' young group of defensemen. Similar to Niskanen, Braun logs minutes and understands goal prevention. Over the past six seasons, Niskanen and Braun are a combined plus-123. Niskanen has 125 games of playoff experience. Before the additions of these two defensemen, Claude Giroux had played the most postseason games on the Flyers' roster with 69.

"I always try to play defense first and then out," Braun said Tuesday in a conference call. "Good gap, break pucks out quick. Not afraid to go back for pucks and get there first. Take a hit every now and again. I think the boys in San Jose like to laugh at me about that, going back and taking too many hits. You've just got to do what you've got to do to get the puck out."

Despite playing out on the West Coast, Braun was well aware of 20-year-old goalie Carter Hart.

"He looks like the real deal," Braun said. "It'll be exciting to play in front of him. That's good stuff going forward."

So what does this mean for the Flyers' defense? More experience, more depth. For now, it looks like Robert Hagg is the odd-man out. A big 24-year-old coming off an 82-game season is not a bad option for a seventh defenseman.

Does it mean the Flyers are suddenly looking to trade a young defenseman? No. Anything is possible, but Braun has the look of a one-year rental who can help immediately, be that positive influence to help change the way the Flyers play and take some pressure off of a young defense.

"[Fletcher] said I don't want you to be a mentor, I want you to be a player," Braun said. "That's important. I'm there to play, not just take care of guys. Whatever I can teach them."

The potential pairs for now:

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun

Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers

"Between Ghost and Provorov, those are the two I probably know the most," Braun said when asked about the Flyers' youthfulness on the blue line. "Played against them the last two years. They're dynamic, they create a lot. They're jumping in the play a lot. You've got to have those guys out there pushing the pace. You're not going to get much offense if you're just taking 3-on-3 rushes. You've got to get that fourth guy on the rush. Hopefully I can help with that. Those guys seem to be elite at it."

When Fletcher took the job, he talked about the Flyers' cap space and slew of draft picks. He's starting to use both and it's only June 18.

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Flyers' 2019-20 preseason schedule features trip to Switzerland

Flyers' 2019-20 preseason schedule features trip to Switzerland

Typically, the Flyers' preseason schedule consists of trips within the Northeast.

In 2019-20, the Flyers will be branching out just a tad. The upcoming exhibition slate features a game in Lausanne, Switzerland, which caps off the preseason before the club begins the regular-season campaign with its anticipated opener in Prague, Czech Republic, where they'll play the Blackhawks on Oct. 4.

Last year, the Flyers' preseason opener came two days after the start of training camp. This upcoming year, the Flyers' preseason opener comes Monday, Sept. 16, which means main training camp (after rookie camp) will likely start Saturday morning, Sept. 14, at Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Here's a look at 2019-20 exhibition schedule, starting with the annual rookie game:

9/11: Rookie game vs. NY Islanders, PPL Center, 7:05 p.m.

9/16: vs. NY Islanders, Wells Fargo Center, 7 p.m.

9/17: at NY Islanders, Barclays Center, 7 p.m.

9/19: vs. Bruins, Wells Fargo Center, 7 p.m.

9/21: vs. NY Rangers, Wells Fargo Center, 7 p.m.

9/23: at Bruins, TD Garden, 7 p.m.

9/26: at NY Rangers, Madison Square Garden, 7 p.m.

9/30: vs. HC Lausanne, Vaudoise Arena (Switzerland), 1 p.m. (7 p.m. local)

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