The Philadelphia Flyers are continuing to struggle on the ice. So, let’s turn our sights to the upcoming World Junior Championship, which will run from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. After being fan-free in Edmonton in 2021, spectators will be back in the mix this year.
Two Flyers prospects could be set to represent their countries in 2022: Emil Andrae for Sweden and Elliot Desnoyers for Canada.
Because of ongoing Covid-19 concerns, expanded rosters have been approved again this year. The limit has been set at 25 players, and while Team Canada and Team USA are holding selection camps this week to determine their final lists, European rosters are now basically set.
Andrae Makes Team Sweden
That’s good news for Emil Andrae, who is on the 24-player list that was released by Team Sweden on Wednesday.
Drafted in the second round in 2020, Andrae is an undersized defenseman, listed at 5’9″ and 176 pounds. His team, HV71, currently leads Sweden’s second-tier Allsvenskan with a record of 18-5 through 23 games. With 16 points in 20 games, Andrae sits third on his team in scoring and is among the top-scoring defensemen in the league.
— Daniel Wangler (@DanielWangler) December 8, 2021
Andrae will be making his second World Juniors appearance, after picking up one assist and going plus-3 in five games in 2021. Sweden went 2-1-1 in the preliminary round last year before being knocked out by Finland in a 3-2 quarterfinal loss.
This year, Sweden is part of Group B. Preliminary-round games will be played in Red Deer, against Russia, the United States, Slovakia and Switzerland.
Desnoyers Invited To Team Canada Camp
On this side of the Atlantic, forward Elliot Desnoyers is one of 35 players invited to Team Canada’s World Junior selection camp, which runs Friday through Monday in Calgary.
The Flyers’s fifth-round selection in 2020, Desnoyers is a shifty forward who can create offense seemingly at will. Last year, he was named to the second all-star team of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after putting up 49 points in 37 games with the Halifax Mooseheads. This year, he’s already at 13 goals and 36 points in 23 games. That’s good for second on the Mooseheads, who six third in the six-team Maritimes Division with a record of 13-10-1-1.
Desy at his best.
— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) December 4, 2021
As usual, Canada has a deep talent pool to work with. Twenty-one forwards are in camp, and that number will be whittled down to about 14. Among the forwards, there’s just one returnee from last year’s silver medal-winning team, Winnipeg Jets prospect Cole Perfetti. And while World Juniors is often considered to be a 19-year-old’s tournament, Canada’s list of camp invitees includes five first-round picks from the 2021 draft as well as 2022’s frontrunner for first overall, Shane Wright, and 2023’s top prospect, Connor Bedard.
That being said, some top names from Desnoyers’ 2020 draft class aren’t available to Team Canada. Alexis Lafreniere and Seth Jarvis are playing regular roles with the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively. And Quinton Byfield has recently been assigned to the AHL’s Ontario Reign as he recovers from a fractured ankle.
Desnoyers needs to use this selection camp opportunity to make a case for himself. His only previous appearance for Team Canada came at the U17 level.
Canada will play in Group A in Edmonton, with preliminary-round games against Finland, Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.
One surprising note: the Flyers’ top pick from the 2021 draft, Samu Tuomaala, did not make the cut for Team Finland.
Selected 46th overall in July, Tuomaala showed well during the Flyers’ training camp, and played two AHL games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms before returning to Finland. He was then loaned from his club team, Karpat, to Sport Vaasa, another team in Finland’s SM-Liiga.
Tuomaala has just one goal in six games with his new team. But he had also played seven games with Finland’s U20 squad at other tournaments this year, where he picked up four points. That made it looks like his World Juniors spot was a near certainty.
On the bright side, Tuomaala doesn’t turn 19 until January. He’ll still be eligible for the 2023 tournament.
Meanwhile, Injuries have prevented two 19-year-old Flyers prospects from getting into the mix with Team Canada. Tyson Foerster, the first-rounder from 2020, has a long road to recovery ahead after dislocating his shoulder as he dove for a loose puck during a 5-on-3 power play with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in early November. And after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, 2020 fourth-rounder Zayde Wisdom got back onto the ice with his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs, in late November.
Foerster and Wisdom both delivered impressive seasons in Lehigh Valley last year, while the OHL was shut down. It’s disappointing that they won’t get the opportunity to show what they can do on junior hockey’s biggest stage.
Flyers’ On-Ice Woes Continue
Back with the big club, the Flyers’ losing streak is now at 10 games and counting.
The only positives to come out of Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils were the return of Derick Brassard, who had missed six games with a hip injury, and a solid performance from Carter Hart, who made 24 saves. It’s the first time in six games that the Flyers have limited their opponent to less than four goals.
Before this 0-8-2 stretch began, the Flyers had not lost back-to-back games all season. Their next change to right the ship comes out west this weekend. They’ll play late-night games on Friday in Vegas (10 p.m. ET) and Saturday in Arizona (9 p.m. ET).
Blueliner Kevin Connauton could make his Flyers debut in one of those games. The 31-year-old was picked up on waivers from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Connauton plays the left side and has good size at 6’2″ and 205 pounds, but has been a depth defenseman throughout his NHL career. In 334 games with five teams, Connauton has 27 goals and 77 points while averaging 15:53 of ice time per game.
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