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December 30, 2015

Checking in on the Flyers prospects at the World Juniors

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When the Flyers headed west, Ron Hextall went the other direction. While the Orange and Black are playing the California teams on their annual Ice Capades road trip, a bunch of future Flyers are in Helsinki, Finland for the 2016 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

The Flyers have seven prospects playing in Finland for their respective countries, tied for the most in the NHL with Arizona. Considering the high level of competition, you can understand why Hextall wanted to get over to Europe. From Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post:

“Personally you get a lot because you’re seeing the top players from every country for a week,” Hextall said. “Even if it’s just questions for your scouts down the road, there’s a lot of education there that you get in a short period of time. You’ve got the (upcoming) draft picks and then our prospects, then you’ve got other team’s players that are drafted where you get a look at them. You never know.”

Group play is in full swing, and teams have either played two or three games so far. Here is how the Flyers’ youngsters are faring.

Canada

Judging from my Twitter timeline, Flyers fans aren’t very happy with Canadian boss Dave Lowry. Despite having strong seasons for their respective junior teams, neither Travis Sanheim nor Travis Konecny are receiving a ton of ice time for the tournament favorites (1-1-1). Is this Lowry’s form of retribution for this little run-in with Shjon Podein in the ’96 playoffs?

Probably not, them’s just the breaks on a loaded Team Canada. First, let’s start with Sanheim. From what I saw of Canada’s first two games (airing on NHL Network), he seems to be plenty dangerous in the offensive zone. That isn’t why he is stuck on the third pairing and not seeing much of the ice.

The development doesn’t come as a total surprise, because this has been the scouting report on Sanheim for some time now. Through three games, he’s a plus-1 with no points, even though he clearly should have picked up an assist on this play:

As for Konecny, who is on the Canadians’ fourth line, he only has one point through three games (this sweet assist to Lawson Crouse right on the doorstep). It feels like he has been in the middle of a lot of the action, though. First, he drew a game misconduct from American Alex DeBrincat:

Then, he made Switzerland defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler think twice about not staying neutral.

Russia

The Russians sit on top of Group B with eight points in three games (two wins, one overtime win), and they also have two Flyers prospects on the squad. The name that you likely have heard of is the seventh overall pick in last June’s draft, Ivan Provorov.

Provorov isn’t the type of player that will put up gaudy numbers, but he does have three assists through three games. This would have been a heck of a short-handed goal on Tuesday against Belarus:

Alas, still a nice effort. Radel Fazleev (6th-round pick, 2014) isn’t nearly the name that Provorov is, but boy, did he ever score a pretty goal against the host country? OK, not really:

Fazleev plays with Sanheim for the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League, and he leads the team with 42 points (and he’s just behind Sanheim at 1.27 Pt./G). And that concludes 70 words about Radel Fazleev.

Sweden

Our final country that includes two future Flyers is off to a smashing start, 2-0-0 with a win over our boys. Goaltender Felix Sandstrom is backing up a dude who turned away all 46 American shots on Monday, so he probably won’t be in the crease barring an injury.

That leaves Oskar Lindblom, who we talked with ESPN’s Corey Pronman about back in October. Originally a 5th-round pick, Lindblom had an excellent tournament last year in Canada. Lindblom has a goal in two games, and he also scored on the power play in a tune-up contest against Canada:

Czech Republic

Like Konecny, David Kase a smaller forward that Pronman was high on compared to where he was drafted (5th round, 2015). For the Czechs, he has one assist in two games.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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