On December 26th, the annual World Junior Championship will begin in Buffalo, NY. Other than the Stanley Cup playoffs, this tournament is what I most look forward to every year because we get to watch prospects from all over the world compete against each other for a few weeks to prove that they are the best prospects in the world. This article will focus on Flyers’ prospects that will be featured in the tournament.
One of the players who was invited to participate is top goaltending prospect, Carter Hart. Last year, Hart was one of the final two goalies playing for Team Canada, splitting time with Connor Ingram, a prospect for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hart eventually claimed the starting role for the championship game against the U.S.A. Canada went home with a silver medal after falling in the shootout.
This year seems to be different for Hart. Heading into the World Junior camp for Canada, it seems as though he is the clear starter and will most likely play almost every game in the tournament. This year, he has been dominating the WHL with an incredible 1.32 GAA, .961 SV%, and 5 shutouts, proving himself to be one of the top goaltending prospects in the world.
Another top Flyers’ prospect who played at the World Juniors last year was German Rubstov. Unfortunately, Rubstov had very little playing time last year; he was buried on the fourth line for a majority of the tournament, and had very little production due to this lack of ice time. This year will most likely be different. He is now one of the older players on the team and is very likely going to get top-six minutes. If he is given that role, many talented wingers for Russia, including 2018 top draft prospect Andrei Svechnikov and 2017 first round pick Klim Kostin, will surround him.
One of the lesser-known prospects playing in the tournament that every Flyers fan should be watching is Linus Högberg, who is projected to be a top-four defenseman for Sweden. Sweden has one of the most impressive defensive cores heading into the tournament, including the likes of (likely) future first overall pick, Rasmus Dahlin, and Toronto prospect Timothy Liljegren. Högberg is likely to pair with one of these players due to his impressive defensive game. Both Dahlin and Liljegren are extremely talented in the offensive zone, so being paired with Högberg will allow them to show off their offensive skill set.
The World Junior Championship is an extremely competitive tournament and, with some of the Flyers prospects playing prominent roles for some of the best countries, it will be awesome to watch them compete throughout this tournament. This is some of the most entertaining hockey to watch all year and, when you can watch the Flyers top prospects compete, it becomes even more entertaining.