By Kevin Fortier @ksfortier
The 2018 IIHF World U20 Tournament began yesterday in Buffalo, NY. The main attraction of the initial rounds will be a replay of last year’s championship game between the US and Canada on Friday December 29th. The game will be played outside at New Era Stadium.
The US won the gold last year in a shootout. Flyers blue chip goaltender prospect Carter Hart, a 2016 2nd round draft pick, was the losing goalie in that game.
The Flyers have four prospects participating for their countries in the tournament: A goaltender, a defenseman and two forwards.
Carter Hart is playing for team Canada, German Rubtsov is representing his home country of Russia, Linus Hogberg is playing defense for team Sweden, and Maxim Sushko is playing for his home country Belarus.
In one of the most surprising snubs, team Canada did not invite Flyers 2017 first round pick Morgan Frost to camp, and therefore did not include him on their roster. Frost has 19 goals and 55 points in 33 games for the OHL Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. He also has an astounding +42 rating. Frost is 3rd in the OHL in scoring and leads the league in +/-. His Greyhound linemate Boris Katchouk will be on the Canadian roster.
The tournament showcases many of the best U20 hockey players, pre and post draft, in the world. Not all of the best will play as several eligible players who are currently in the NHL will not be playing for their home teams. For example, the Flyers did not allow Nolan Patrick to be eligible to play as he has been part of the Flyers roster since the season began.
Weight: 181 pounds
Team: Everett Silvertips
Hometown: Edmonton, AB, Can
Drafted: 2016 2nd round 48th overall
2017 Stats: Games: 17 13W – 3L – 1T GAA: 1.32 SA%: .961
2016 Stats: Games: 54 32W – 11L – 2T GAA: 1.99 SA%: .927
Highlights: 2016/17 WJC U20 Silver Medal – 2015/16 CHL Goaltender of Year
WHL Top Goaltender 15/16 & 16/17 – 2015/16 Hlinka Gold Medal
Analysis: Most of the focus for Flyers prospects will be on sensational netminder Carter Hart. He won the silver medal last year and is hoping to return to the gold medal game again, hopefully with a better outcome. He also looks to be the best goaltender in the tournament.
Weight: 187 pounds
Team: Chicoutimi Saguenees
Hometown: Chekhov, Russia
Drafted: 2016 1st round 22nd overall
2017 Stats: Games: 25 Goals: 8 Assists: 17 Points: 25 +/-: +2
2016 Stats: Games: 16 Goals: 9 Assists: 13 Points: 22 +/-: +11
Highlights: 2016/17 WJC U20 Bronze Medal – 2015/16 Hlinka Bronze Medal
Analysis: German Rubtsov hopes to stay healthy and show that he can be a leader for the Russian team to help them return to the medal rounds. He was injured in the 2nd game last year and was not much of a factor after that. The Russian team focuses on older players, so as a 19-year-old he should play a more significant role than he did last year.
Weight: 183 pounds
Team: Vaxjo Lakers
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
Drafted: 2016 5th round 139th overall
2017 Stats: Games: 25 Goals: 1 Assists: 3 Points: 4 +/-: +2
2016 Stats: Games: 35 Goals: 0 Assists: 4 Points: 4 +/-: +2
Highlights: 2014/15 WHC U17 Bronze Medal – J20 SM Silver Medal
Analysis: Linus Hogberg has quietly had a solid 2017 season in Sweden. Sweden typically has defensemen who can contribute from the blueline to the offense, which Hogberg is not. But he is a reliable defensive defenseman who hopes to prove useful for his team.
Weight: 179 pounds
Position: Right Wing
Team: Owen Sound Attack
Hometown: Brest, Belarus
Drafted: 2017 4th round 107th overall
2017 Stats: Games: 28 Goals: 16 Assists: 10 Points: 26 +/-: +1
2016 Stats: Games: 54 Goals: 17 Assists: 15 Points: 32 +/-: +10
Highlights: 2016/17 U18 D1A Gold Medal – 2015/16 U18 D1A Gold Medal
Analysis: Maxim Sushko helped Belarus dominate the D1A tournament the past two years and is hoping his dynamic play in the OHL this season will translate to the international arena.