This past Friday, Canada defeated Sweden in the gold medal game to win the World Junior Championship and conclude what is the best tournament every year. Over the course of the two-week tournament, there were several Flyers’ prospects who played key roles for their respective teams as they each tried to bring the gold medal back to their country. Both Carter Hart and German Rubstov played key roles for their countries and continued to show us Flyers fans why our future is so bright.
German Rubstov was able to put up four points in five games for Russia throughout the tournament. His team did not do as well as they may have expected, but Rubstov was amazing for them. One highlight really stood out to me in his play.
At the 1:00 mark in this video, Rubstov came down the left side and held the puck as he went behind the net, before passing it across the crease for an amazing assist. This really shows off the kind of playmaking ability he has and the potential plays he will (hopefully) be making in the NHL with the Flyers in the future.
Carter Hart was the clear starting goaltender for Team Canada throughout the entire tournament. He split the games throughout group play, but when it came time for the elimination round, he was starting every game. For the first time in years, Canada finally had a strong presence in net they could rely on for every game. In years past, goaltending seemed to be the one thing that would possibly stop Canada from winning gold every year, but Hart was considered to be the best goaltender heading into the tournament, a notion that he proved to be correct.
Many people have been comparing Hart to Carey Price, and for good reason. Price is such an amazing goaltender because of his positioning. Every once and a while, you see a spectacular highlight reel save from Price sliding across the crease to deny the other team, but for the most part, he doesn’t need to do that because of his ability to be in position at all times. If you watched Hart throughout the tournament, you could see he was always square to the puck. He knows where the puck is at all times and has the ability to shut down the other team simply by giving them nowhere to shoot. At first, I was disappointed that I wasn’t seeing those flashy saves that you see out of the top NHL goalies from Hart, but it is easy to get over that when you keep hearing that Hart is the best goaltending prospect since Carey Price.
Watching the World Juniors is my favorite time of the year for hockey, and when you have players like Rubstov and Hart playing starring roles for their countries, it adds a whole other level. These guys are going to be great NHL players in a few years and I know most Flyers fans can’t wait for that time to come.