That’s a wrap, folks! The rescheduled World Juniors closed out with Canada winning the gold medal on Saturday night, and weird as it might have been as a summer hockey tournament, it was a really successful one for the Flyers’ four prospects on their respective national teams. Let’s take a few moments to recap their performances.
Brian Zanetti. Defense. Switzerland
4 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 TP 1 SOG
Before we move on to talking about the medalists, of which there are three, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on Zanetti’s performance as well, even if he didn’t come away with any hardware. He was leaned on heavily by his team, and he largely delivered for them.
Zanetti’s still on the rangy side, and we’d like to see him continuing to build strength, but he held up well enough against the top players in his age group. He didn’t chip in a ton in the way of offense, but he did stand out in his impacts in transition. Zanetti has a very clean first pass, and we saw him using it well in both quick-up situations to start a rush, as well as a couple of longer passes to stretch up-ice.
And even if it wasn’t often hitting the net, Zanetti has a booming shot that he was able to get through traffic pretty well, and that’s an encouraging takeaway for someone like us, who might be less fussed about his team results, and more about how well he demonstrated some of his projectable skills.
He’s a little raw, but there might well be something there.
Emil Andrae. Defense. Sweden
7 GP, 4 G, 4 A, 8 TP, 25 SOG
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Andrae was the best defenseman in this tournament. He may have been outscored by Olen Zelleweger (who put up two goals and nine assists in seven games), but Andrae’s impacts on his team, which was not as high powered offensively, did feel more impressive.
Sweden’s offense was really running through Andrae. Sweden was struggling mightily at times not just to generate goals, but really any manner of dangerous scoring chance, and Andrae really stepped up to be The Guy for them (that’s good captaining, huh?). Really, he was doing everything—he was leading their scoring, playing big minutes at even strength as well as both on the power play and penalty kill, he was even jumping up to drive the net for scoring chances, and blowing up opponents with huge hits from time to time (which was a little funny to see, given Andrae’s size, but we don't hate it).
Something, beyond the scoring flash, that really stood out was how well Andrae defends rushes one on one. Now, we don't like to see him getting beaten initially, but it’s going to happen to everyone, and what becomes more important, then, if how you recover, and Andrae does that remarkably well.
We saw a couple of instances like this one, where he was able to stay close on the puck carrier, and just when it looked like he was going to be beaten physically, he stays patient and sticks with the play, and then is able to get on their hands and chip the puck away and into the corner, away from danger.
We really can't say enough about how well Andrae did in this tournament. He’s a prospect that’s flown a bit under the radar, but this should have his stock rising.
Elliot Desnoyers. Forward. Canada
7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 TP, 10 SOG
And last but not least, our gold medalists! Desnoyers was pencilled in for a depth role for this tournament, and while we did see a little bit more jump from his line in the December iteration of this tournament (as would be expected as Canada was working with an even more stacked roster at the time), but Desnoyers on his own did well to still deliver solid positive results. Desnoyers plays a pretty straightforward game—tight checking, hard working, a bit physical—and that’s what he brought with him into this tournament as well. We didn’t see a ton of him (though we saw a bit more as he was shuffled up the lineup some after Ridly Greig was injured), as he averaged just 10:13 of ice time across all situations per game, but he still seemed to embrace that role, and found a way to be effective player fewer minutes than he’s used to, something that isn’t always an easy task.
It was something of a no-nonsense, not a whole lot of flash showing for Desnoyers in this tournament, but we’re just fine with that. We liked his checking work, as well as his defensive impacts, and he did well the job that Canada asked him to do.
Tyson Foerster. Forward. Canada
7 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 TP, 20 SOG
But, if you were looking for a bit more flash from the Flyers’ prospects on Team Canada, Foerster had you covered. He got a second chance at this tournament after it was rescheduled, as he was still recovering from injury back in December and wasn’t available to Team Canada then, so in some ways it felt like he was playing with house money, and he really ran with that opportunity.
It took a little while for the scoring to come for him, but he was still getting some good chances in his first couple of games. He also brought a nice bit of physicality right from the jump—indeed, one of the first impressions he made in their very first game was that he’s hitting like a guy who’s spent some time in the American League.
And on that note, what really stood out about Foerster’s play in this tournament was just how well rounded his game was. We know he has an absolutely lethal shot, and we did see him breaking that out, like in this goal, but that was only one piece in the equation.
We saw him scoring in other ways too, and showing a real, uh, fearlessness to crash the net.
Foerster was certainly driving individual offense well, but he set up a few nice chances—on the cycle, on the rush, even with one really nice stretch pass that felt like shades of something we saw from him with the Phantoms, which was neat—as well, and even flashed a bit on the defensive side as well, forechecking well and bringing pressure well to force some turnovers. If nothing else, it showed us that he’s not hampered by lingering issues from his shoulder injury last year, and that the development time lost from that hasn't negatively affected him in a big way. He was a real standout in this tournament, and that puts him in a good spot as he’s set to return to the AHL this season.
And one last thing before we go...
Bedard Watch 2k22
Hey, if the Flyers are probably going to be bad this year, let’s give ourselves something to be excited about. Who knows, maybe they’ll be bad enough that they can win the lottery and get Connor Bedard. Because he is, uh, yeah he’s pretty good. The only 17 year old on the team, he finished fifth in scoring with four goals and four assists in seven games played. Let’s hit the highlight reel, shall we?
This is an Auston Matthews-type release by Connor Bedard pic.twitter.com/hWgP8echZC— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) August 15, 2022
And let the tank race begin.