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July 06, 2024

Flyers prospect Denver Barkey became 'the guy' for the London Knights after getting cut from Team Canada

Barkey returned to the Flyers' Development Camp in Voorhees this week after a breakout OHL season fueled by a cut from Team Canada for the World Junior Championship.

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Denver-Barkey-Flyers-Dev-Camp-July-2024.jpg Nick Tricome/PhillyVoice

Flyers forward prospect Denver Barkey during drills at the team's development camp in Voorhees.

In mid-December, Hockey Canada announced its roster for the 2024 World Junior Championship later that month. 

London Knights Easton Cowan and Oliver Bonk made the cut. Their junior teammate Denver Barkey didn't.

It stung. 

But it might have been a blessing in disguise for the Flyers prospect, who the organization picked up in the third round of the 2023 NHL Draft last summer at 95th overall. 

He went home for the Christmas break in the OHL schedule to decompress and get away from everything for a bit. Then, when he returned to the Knights while Bonk (a fellow Flyers prospect) and Cowan were off playing for Team Canada, it was his team for those next couple of weeks.

Denver Barkey was the guy.

"I know he was thinking 'Well, I have no one to play with,'" Riley Armstrong, the Flyers' director of player development, said of that point in the season. "And at that time, he realized he was now the guy and all these other players wanted to play with him."

And maybe even more importantly: That he could thrive in that role with the spotlight on him. 

Barkey kept a dominant Knights team chugging along, and then on a run straight to the OHL title and a goal-shy of the CHL's Memorial Cup once Bonk and Cowan returned. 

By the end of the regular season, the undersized forward prospect led the team in offense with 102 points (35 goals and 67 assists), then stacked up 27 more points (six goals and 21 assists) through 18 games in the OHL postseason run. 

Getting cut stung, but it sent the 19-year old Barkey on a mission to be better. 

"The World Junior camp, it was a cool experience, and to not make it, it was heartbreaking," Barkey recalled during the Flyers' Development Camp in Voorhees earlier this week. " It was a tough couple of days for me. It stung a bit, but you know, you kind of gotta – you gotta move on.

"My goal was to prove them wrong and use that to fuel the fire. So after I got cut there, I kind of used it as motivation for the rest of the season, to prove them wrong and just to continue to grow as a player and a person."

And he's trending upward, with another chance to make Team Canada right around the corner. 

Barkey said he received an invite back to Hockey Canada's World Junior camp at the end of the month, and returned to Voorhees for the Flyers' Development Camp this week with a greater share of attention and interest after his breakout season in London. 

He's much more confident of a player now. In the past year, the Knights' coaching staff trusted him with more ice time and in more situations, and given where he and the Knights landed by season's end, Barkey made good on that trust.

"I think confidence this year was a huge thing," Barkey said. "I had more opportunity, more ice time, I got trusted in different situations. So just having the confidence in myself, knowing that I put the work in throughout the summer to take advantage of that opportunity and make the most of it. I think that was a huge thing for me – just having the confidence with the puck on my stick and without it, just trusting that I'm gonna make the right play."

Because more often than not, he did. 

Denver-Barkey-Flyers-Dev-Camp-July-2024.jpgNick Tricome/PhillyVoice

Flyers prospect Denver Barkey will likely return to London in the OHL for the upcoming season.

Barkey, who can fly across the ice but is billed at just 5'9" and 154 pounds, said his main priority with this week's development camp, and for the rest of the offseason, is to get stronger. 

"That's always been the biggest thing for me, and that's gonna be another big thing for me this summer," Barkey said. "Kind of have a shorter summer this year just because we had a long playoff run, but I'm gonna try to make the most of my time in the gym, maybe some extra days on the weekends in the gym or extra hours after just putting in work to get stronger, get bigger, so I can play with the bigger guys."

He's headed for another season in juniors with Knights, likely alongside Bonk as well. A jump to the pros – whether it's in the AHL with the Phantoms or up in the NHL with the Flyers – isn't quite in the cards just yet. 

But if and when the time comes to go back to London, Barkey knows he can be sure of this: He can be the guy.

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