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 prospects Sandstrom, Hart make incredible saves in World Juniors

Flyers prospects Sandstrom, Hart make incredible saves in World Juniors

The Flyers have more prospects than any other NHL team in the World Junior Hockey Championships and Wednesday night's semifinal between Canada and Sweden was a showcase of impressive netminders Carter Hart of Canada and Felix Sandstrom of Sweden.

With the right to take on Team USA in the final up for grabs, both Hart, the 48th overall selection in the 2016 NHL draft and Sandstrom, the 70th overall pick in the 2015 draft, made sensational saves.

You can tell the Canadian fans love Hart because they are going absolutely nuts over him on Twitter. During the game, he was the No. 2 trending topic in Canada.

Canada went on to beat Sweden, 5-2, and will meet Team USA on Thursday night with gold on the line.

And the Flyers hope they've struck gold with these two prospects.

Travis Konecny relies on previous experience for Team Canada's camp

Travis Konecny relies on previous experience for Team Canada's camp

TORONTO — Being back in Team Canada colors this week brought back some hectic memories for Flyers prospect Travis Konecny.

In January, just days after Canada was bounced from the World Junior Hockey Championship thanks to a quarterfinal loss to Finland, Konecny had his Ontario Hockey League rights dealt from Ottawa to Sarnia.

“That was a stressful time last year,” Konecny recalled Monday while at Canada’s national junior team summer development camp. “It was obviously fun being at the world juniors, but it was kind of hectic when I got back home and had to deal with all the other stuff.

“I actually went to Sarnia, played three [games] in three [nights] and then flew back down to Ottawa, grabbed my car and all my things, and came back [to Sarnia].”

Konecny is one of nine returnees at Canada’s camp this year attempting to erase the embarrassment of the sixth-place finish at the Under-20 tournament in Finland. The 19-year-old scored one goal and added an assist in the five games.

Having the experience of the 2016 tournament in his arsenal, Konecny better understands what to expect heading into the 2017 event.

“It's a fast transition,” he said. “You've got to come from your club team and try to adapt to the different systems: power play, penalty kill — anything it is — 5-on-5. It's almost like playing, the coaches say here an AHL playoff game, which is the kind of level you're wanting to get up to.”

It’s previous experience Konecny was able to rely on and help him get through Flyers development camp last month. Originally one of the Flyers' first-round picks (24th overall) at the 2015 NHL draft, Konecny entered his second camp after scoring 30 goals and 101 points in 60 games split between Ottawa and Sarnia.

“I knew what I was going to be doing the second time around so I could prepare a little better and I felt I was a lot more relaxed off the start,” Konecny said. “My first year I was a little rusty and I came out pretty good this year.

“The 20-year-olds, the 22-year-olds — they're all strong guys so what I took from it is getting stronger throughout the summer and the speed of the game is a lot quicker, too, so you've got to get prepared for that and adapt as quick as possible.”

The London, Ontario, native is listed at 5-foot-10 and weighed in at 183 pounds last month at Flyers development camp. Part of his offseason goal is to add weight to his frame — he hopes to be in the 185-187-pound range in time for the upcoming season (see story).

“If I could play with my speed and comfortably at that weight, that'd be a good goal for me,” Konecny said. “[Monday] I weighed in at 184 [pounds].”

Kris Knoblauch, who is one of Canada’s assistant coaches, has coached against Konecny in the OHL while behind the bench of the Erie Otters for the past three seasons and seen steady growth in the forward.

“I think his strength was always being dynamic with the puck and being able to make plays with speed,” Knoblauch said. "But now I think he’s stronger, tough to push off the puck, instead of getting bumped and losing the puck, he can control it and extend plays.”

Given his age, Konecny has just two options: either make the Flyers out of training camp or go back to the OHL. Should he return to the Sarnia Sting, he’ll likely get an opportunity to represent Canada once again at the world juniors.

With the 2017 world juniors split between Montreal and Toronto, it’ll give Konecny an opportunity to play some international hockey while close to home.

“There's definitely pressure that comes with that, but it's crazy that it's back in Canada and we're all excited,” he said. “I know my buddy Lawson [Crouse] got to experience it two years ago, so hearing what he has to say about it is tempting to want to get on the team as much as you can and do whatever it takes to get on the team.

“It's even more home soil for me. I have family and friends that are all going to be able to come to the games.”