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Flyers prospects impress at 2023 World Juniors

Tying the tournament up with a bow.

Latvia v United States: Group B - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Dale Preston/Getty Images

That’s a wrap, folks! The 2023 World Juniors ended Thursday night in exciting fashion, with the United States claiming victory of the bronze medal over Sweden, winning 8-7 in overtime (no, that is not a typo), and then Canada making it back-to-back goal medals after surviving a late comeback by the Czechs and also getting a win in overtime. It was a wild tournament, and a whole lot of fun to watch (and certainly felt less like a fever dream than the summer rescheduled iteration). The Flyers also had a pair of prospects in the tournament who had themselves quite good showings, representing their countries and the organization well, so let’s take a moment to check in with them, shall we?

Brian Zanetti. Defense. Switzerland

5 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 4 SOG

It was, all in all, a relatively quiet tournament for Zanetti, if we’re just looking at the box scores. We’ve seen his offensive game pop well at the OHL level, but we didn’t see it manifest in quite the same way in this (reminder: very short) tournament. That said, the one assist he did pick up was a nice primary on Switzerland’s opening goal against Latvia.

Zanetti’s strength is in his ability to get the puck moving in transition, in his breakout passing, and we did that working well for him in this tournament. He was relied on heavily at 5-on-5 (he averaged 16:19 of ice time per game, and just about all of that came at even strength, as he wasn’t really getting much at all in the way of special teams assignments) and overall held up well there.

This will have been Zanetti’s last World Juniors, as he turns 20 in a couple of months, and while he might have been hoping to go out with more of a bang, it’s not as though this was a poor showing either. He was a steady presence on Switzerland’s second defensive pair, and a quietly effective game is an effective one all the same.

Cutter Gauthier. Forward. USA

7 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 31 SOG

It feels a bit strange to look at that stat line for Gauthier on that bronze medal winning American team and say that he still had an under the radar, underrated good tournament, but that would be true. He spent the tournament on a line with Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud, who provided a whole lot of scoring punch, and garnered themselves a lot of attention, deservedly, as a result. Gauthier’s work might be a bit lost in the discussion of that trio’s efforts, but it remains that he was far from just a passenger on that line, and there was a lot to like about his game. Let’s go to the tape.

The United States’ power play was a real strength for this team, and Gauthier was a key factor in making it work in that top unit. We saw him creating chances well by funneling pucks to the net. Sometimes that was a shot-pass to the player at the front of the net to keep the cycle going...

And sometimes it was just a shot, like this one timer that’s something of a Gauthier specialty.

We also saw him making use of that same type of shot at 5-on-5 as well.

And for as much as we liked his playmaking in this tournament, his shoot-first mentality was probably the piece that stood out the most. His first goal of the tournament against was a nice one from a tough angle.

The goals are nice, to be sure, but they weren’t the end of the offense generated by Gauthier. He finished the tournament second in shots on goal with 31, behind just Snuggerud. As of the second intermission of Monday’s game against Germany, Gauthier was also leading the whole of the tournament with 10 individual rush chances (thanks to the NHL Network broadcast for tossing out that extra stat that we wouldn’t otherwise have access to).

But away from the offensive flash, there was a lot that was working well for him, that maybe doesn’t garner the same attention—he was playing with pace, checking well, winning battles when he needed to, generally taking care of his details so that his line could continue to click so well. It wasn’t always flashy, but it was effective, it was enough.

It wasn’t a perfect tournament for Gauthier—you could tell from some of his zone entries and positioning that it took him a little while to get adjusted to playing on the wing again after spending most of his college season playing center, and he got caught a few times sort of floating in the defensive zone, but we’re nitpicking there a bit. All in all, it was an impressive showing for an exciting prospect and it was a treat to see him contributing so extensively to his team’s medal winning efforts.

All stats via the IIHF.

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