Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.
In this edition, we feature the nine prospects playing in the world junior championships. The quarterfinals begin today, and the tournament wraps up Thursday night.
Philippe Myers, D, 6-5/209, Team Canada
Some good and some bad news on the Myers front. Let’s begin with the bad.
Myers suffered a concussion during Canada’s 3-1 loss to the United States on Saturday, when Team USA captain Luke Kunin leveled him into the backboards. Kunin received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit. Myers is out for the quarterfinals. For Canada, losing Myers is a major blow. The 6-foot-5 blueliner has been its best D-man in the tournament, logging big minutes and creating offense from the blue line.
In four preliminary games, Myers registered three assists, three shots on goal and a plus-one rating. He displayed tremendous patience and vision, setting up Tyson Jost’s goal against Russia last Monday for Canada’s first goal of the tournament. Off the stat sheet, Myers has played against opponents’ top players and defended them well. Replacing Myers will be a difficult task for head coach Dominique Ducharme.
The concussion is Myers’ second this season. He suffered one late in October, and missed a few games for Rouyn-Noranda. Still, Myers’ progression since the Flyers inked him as an undrafted free agent has to have the front office oozing with excitement. And Myers’ showing before the concussion on the biggest stage in junior hockey also has to excite the orange and black, and for that matter, the Canadian hockey brass.
Carter Hart, G, 6-1/181, Team Canada
Canada has perhaps the best goaltending tandem at the world junior championships, with Hart and Kamloops goalie Connor Ingram, the WHL’s top two netminders.
Hart and Ingram split the prelims, each getting two games. Ingram got the nod over Hart last Saturday against the U.S. Ducharme’s reasoning for the decision was he wanted to get both goalies involved, and Ingram faced just six shots in his first game. As for Hart, the Flyers’ goalie prospect started Canada’s first game against Russia and its third game against Latvia. He yielded three goals to the Russians in a 5-3 win, and two goals against Latvia in a 10-2 win for Canada. He’s stopped 37 of 42 shots faced.
Against Russia, the first goal Hart allowed, on the second shot he faced, is one he should have stopped. Mikhail Sergachyov fluttered a shot top corner on Hart, who was relatively unscreened on the play. He didn’t have much of a shot on Kirill Kaprizov’s goal, and the third goal was a wicked wrister by Yegor Rykov. Hart finished 14 for 17. Hart faced more shots against Latvia, in a game the Canadians ran away with and stopped all but two of the 25 shots he faced. In the win-or-go-home round, it’s unclear, however, whether it will be Hart or Ingram in net against the Czech Republic today.
If it was up to TSN analyst and former NHL goalie Jamie McLennan, Team Canada would go back to Hart and give the first goalie drafted in 2016 a chance to shine.
“This is a win-orientated business,” McLennan said. “He’s 2-0. He may have been a little shaky here and there, but he is still 2-0. You give him the opportunity to run the table.”
Tanner Laczynski, C, 6-1/191, Team USA
Laczynski, the biggest surprise among Flyers prospects thus far, had a quality preliminary round for the United States, netting a goal and an assist in four games.
Centering the fourth line, the 19-year-old has won 64.1 percent of his faceoffs, which is ninth best in the tournament. He has provided the 4-0 U.S. stability in its bottom 12. The Ohio State centerman picked up his goal last Wednesday against Slovakia, tucking a puck past goalie Matej Tomek, another Flyers prospect (more on Tomek later).
In a limited role with Team USA, compared to what he fills at OSU, Laczynski has shown he can be relied upon in either a scoring role or a checking role.
German Rubtsov, C, 6-0/190, Team Russia
It has been a rough 2016-17 season for Rubtsov, and it’s continued over into the WJCs.
The Flyers’ 2016 first-round pick is pointless in four games for Russia, playing mostly on the fourth line. Sound familiar? It should, as Rubtsov is pointless in the KHL, too. In a 9-1 Russian win over Latvia last Tuesday, Rubtsov was the victim of a tripping penalty by Maksims Ponomarenko, who chirped the Russian for overselling.
In the quarterfinals today, Russia faces a Denmark team it should easily dispatch. The game offers another opportunity for Rubtsov to show something to his coaching staff. So far, it’s been a quiet world juniors for the Russian, as it has been all season long.
Mikhail Vorobyov, C, 6-2/207, Team Russia
What a preliminary round for Vorobyov, who is tied with Canada’s Dylan Strome with six assists for the tournament’s lead in that category and tied for fourth in points with six.
Vorobyov did most of his damage in Russia’s 9-1 win over Latvia in which he racked up four assists. He added an assist against the U.S. and Canada. He also has fared well in the faceoff circle with a 62.07 percent clip and has been one of Russia’s top forwards.
Like Laczynski, Vorobyov is another mid-to-late-round draft pick that has some promise. It’s a testament to the Flyers’ scouting department. Vorobyov is still an unknown commodity in terms of how he projects as an NHL prospect, but he’s having a strong WJCs.
Felix Sandstrom, G, 6-2/187, Team Sweden
Sweden clinched the top spot in its group before its final preliminary game, which meant Sandstrom had Saturday off, but he’ll be back in net for Team Sweden today.
Sandstrom has been the tournament’s top goaltender, and has Sweden looking like the gold medal favorite. He’s stopped 62 of 66 shots, leads the tournament with a .939 save percentage and three of the four goals he’s yielded have come on penalty kills.
Expect Sandstrom to continue the momentum in the quarterfinals against Slovakia, and put Sweden in good position to take home the gold medal this year.
David Bernhardt, D, 6-3/203, Team Sweden
Let’s talk about another late-round pick having a strong preliminaries at the world juniors. Bernhardt has three assists and averaging 19:20 in four games for Sweden.
Bernhardt played 21:16 in Sweden’s 5-2 win over the Czech Republic on Saturday, his highest mark in the tournament. He played 20:30 in Sweden’s first game against Denmark, and then 17:44 against Finland and 16:28 against Switzerland.
The 19-year-old puck-moving blueliner has had a productive year with both Djurgårdens IF of the SHL and Djurgårdens IF’s J20 team. He has two goals and seven points in 21 games in the SHL, and 12 points in nine games in the Swedish junior league.
Matej Tomek, G, 6-3/183, Team Slovakia
For not playing in a meaningful game in two years at North Dakota, Tomek’s performance in the prelims is quite impressive. Tomek has been the better of the two goalies for Slovakia, and has all but locked down the starting job for its quarterfinal meeting with Sweden. Tomek has a .913 save percentage, stopping 73 of 80 shots. He lost both games he started, but kept the Slovaks in the game against Russia, allowing just two goals. Against the Americans, he yielded five goals, but the U.S. is a far superior team in terms of talent. A promising world juniors for Tomek.
David Kase, RW, 5-11/170, Team Czech Republic
Battling an injury for the last few weeks, Kase’s status for the world juniors was in question, but the winger proved healthy enough to compete for the Czech Republic. In four preliminary games, Kase added a goal, an assist, 11 shots on goal and four penalty minutes. The Czechs face Canada today in its quarterfinal matchup.
• Travis Sanheim added two more assists last week for the Phantoms. He now has 11 assists and 15 points in 31 games.
• Rough week for Lehigh Valley goalie Alex Lyon, who was 1-1-1 and allowed 11 goals in three games. He stopped 75 of 86 shots faced last week.
• Two more points for Oskar Lindblom, who has 28 points in 30 games for Brynäs IF.
• Cooper Marody made his season debut last weekend for Michigan after sitting out the first semester because he was academically ineligible. How did he do? Three assists last Friday night against Michigan State, his second game of the season.
• Victoriaville’s Pascal Laberge had three assists in three games last week, as did Saint John’s Samuel Dove-McFalls.