Tuesday, December 6, 2016

There Will Be #FutureFlyers At The World Juniors

Welcome to December! It is finally cold outside, and that means that the ice sport is starting to heat up. The Flyers are on a winning streak, the World Junior Championship is on the horizon, and everything is good in the world of hockey.

And, oh yeah, about that World Junior Championship, there are going to be a ton of Flyers prospects in attendance.

Let's get a few quick ones out of the way first.

Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark, Latvia

I don't see any sort of evaluation camp or preliminary roster for these five countries, but I guess we should note that forward David Kase should be a big contributor to the Czech team. I don't believe any Future Flyers will represent the other four countries, but of course I could always be wrong.

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Czech forward David Kase

Let's start with Canada, because it would be impolite to begin anywhere but the host nation. Carter Hart will probably be their primary goalie, because he's been the best goalie in all of Canadian juniors with a 1.65 GAA and a .937 save percentage. This is Canada, though, so the guys behind him (Tampa Bay's Connor Ingram and Montreal's Michael McNiven) are solid in their own right.

Philippe Myers was also invited to evaluation camp, and his showing in the NHL preseason this year has lead us to expect him to make the team. If Canada decides to play three left-handed shots and three right-handed shots on the blueline, Myers will certainly make the team. Even if they don't give any extra weight to the handedness, I would fully expect Myers (the biggest guy invited to the camp) to be a big eater of minutes. Myers is a huge credit to the Flyers' scouting department, in that as an undrafted free agent he will be playing in a defensive unit alongside four first round picks and three second round picks - and he'll probably beat some of those guys out for a roster spot.

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Canadian goalie and frequent #NumberOneHockeyBoy Carter Hart 
United States

We'll stay in North America to take a quick look at the American team, but it'll be a quick one for two reasons. First, their defense is very weak and their offense isn't strong enough for them to usurp Canada.

Second, the only invitee from the Flyers organization is Kieffer Bellows (should of drafted) Ohio State's Tanner Laczynski, who was a sixth round pick. He's killing it at OSU this year, but he's competing against guys named Kunin, Boeser, Bracco, White, Keller, Brown, Bellows, and DeBrincat, so he's decidedly in the second tier of American forwards for this tournament.

Ohio State Buckeye Tanner Laczynski

Let's cross the Atlantic Ocean now and look at the other crown jewel of the Flyers' 2016 draft (Hart is the first jewel, at least for now). German Rubstov (pronounced rubs-off) is one of a handful of "names I have heard" on the Russian preliminary roster.

Here are some other names that you might have come across if you loosely follow Canadian juniors: Dallas' Denis Guryanov, Toronto's Nikita Korostelev, Nashville's Yakov Trenin, Montreal's Mikhail Sergachyov, the Rangers' Sergei Zborovsky, and Washington's Ilya Samsonov (who will be their primary goalie).

A lot of the team hasn't been drafted to the NHL, either because they're too young or because they have no interest in coming to North America. Thankfully, that doesn't appear to be the case with Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyov, who haven't signed entry-level contracts yet but will be on North American ice later this month.

One last note about Russia, a quick fun fact I found while looking up who the hell is going to play on the team. They have one kid named Artyom Artyomov, which, hello, awesome name. And they have another kid named Artyom Volkov, who shares his full name with a Belarus-ian hockey player who is nine months younger than him. Russia!

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Russian center Her-Man Rubs-Off

I don't think anyone on this Finland team is in the Flyers organization.  Again, though, please always take everything I say about anything with a grain of salt.

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We're going to end on a (hopefully) high note here, potentially even higher for Flyers fans than the Canadian team that will feature our top under-22 goalie and the best righthanded defenseman in our pipeline.

This Sweden team, though the headlines are dominated by Buffalo's Alex Nylander, could end up featuring Felix Sandstrom in net if he can beat out Pittsburgh's Filip Gustavsson for the starting job. That would be a huge win, both as a benchmark of Sandstrom's progress since being drafted 70th overall in 2015 and as a little "Fuck you" to the Penguins.

But, even moreso than Sandstrom, Oskar Lindblom is going to prove something regardless of whether he ends up playing for Sweden. If he does, he'll likely be a top-line forward with Nylander and maybe Minnesota's Joel Eriksson Ek. That line will dominate Group A and they'll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

But, hear me out, it might actually be better for Flyers fans if Lindblom doesn't play in the World Juniors. Last season, as a 19 year old, Lindblom was a half-a-point-per-game player in the SHL (Sweden's highest division) and nearly a point-per-game player in a brief stint in the AHL. This season, he's scored 24 points in 24 games as a 20 year old. That would be a point-per-game pace, for all of you non-math guys.

He's second in the entire Swedish league in scoring, and he's the primary reason that his team (Brynas) is tied for second. The other guys in the top ten in scoring leaguewide are 28, 33, 26, 26, 32, 29, 30, 24, and 25 years old. He's playing with full-grown men, beating them, and he's going to end up being so crucial to his team that they can't afford to lose him for two weeks to lend him to Sweden's junior team. How fucking great is that? See you in Pennsylvania next year, Oskar.

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Swedish forward/Future Flyer Oskar Lindblom

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