Sunday, December 8, 2013

World Juniors Preview

For the first time in years, the Flyers will have a handful of their top prospects at the WJCs. Some are virtual locks to represent their countries, while a couple others still have some work to do in the preliminary camps to secure a spot on the roster. I'll take a look at the Flyers' picks who have a chance to play in Malmo.


C- Scott Laughton, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Laughton has been dominant in the OHL this year.  Posting 47 points (24G, 23A) in 28 games after an early demotion from the Flyers, Laughton has shown he may be too good for juniors. But with the CHL-NHL agreement, the Flyers weren't able to send him the AHL and had no choice but to return him to Oshawa. Laughton has done everything for the Gens. He has been a force on the powerplay, penalty kill, and in even strength play. He was rewarded for his stellar play when he was given the captaincy for Team OHL in the Subway Series. As a guy who can play in any situation and plays both ends of the ice, Laughton is a lock to play for Canada in Sweden.

LW- Taylor Leier, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Taylor Leier has been a pleasant surprise for Portland this year. His Memorial Cup tournament was cut short last season, after taking a high hit from Saskatoon's Dalton Thrower. Leier was concussed and some thought it might affect his game next season. But Leier has come out blazing hot this year, sitting at 7th in overall scoring in the WHL with 43 points. He will have to prove that his numbers aren't inflated from being on an offense juggernaut like Portland. Canada still has to trim its roster down by 3, with Leier being a player on the bubble. He did impress in the WHL's super series games, so if he can continue to play like he has, he will be in Malmo.


D- Valeri Vasiliev, Spartak Moscow (KHL)

Vasiliev is a question mark for me. Can’t say I’ve seen him or the most of the other Russian defensemen play, but he has played in 25 games for Spartak Moscow this year. The 2012 7th rounder has represented Russia before, at the U19’s and the Ivan Hlinka. As a 19 year old with KHL experience, it seems like Vasiliev should have a decent shot at making the Russian team.


D- Robert Hagg, MODO (SHL)

Robert Hagg has already secured a spot on the Swedish team. Hagg was a last minute addition to team Sweden last year, when Hampus Lindholm went down with an injury. He was very impressive in Ufa, and was often getting minutes in key situations for the Swedes. Hagg has been up and down for MODO this year, and hopes to get on track with a good showing at the World Juniors on home soil.

United States

G- Anthony Stolarz, London Knights (OHL)

Stolarz has been a brick wall for the London Knights this season. His numbers are among the OHL's elite and he has shown vast improvement after making the transition from the NCAA last year. Stolarz is a lock to play for the United States in the WJCs. He leads the OHL in SV% (.927) and sits at 4th in GAA (2.45). Some would credit his numbers to a good London d-corps, and Stolarz will have to prove his critics wrong in camp. He will likely be the backup for the US, with the NCAA's best netminder, Jon Gillies (Providence) having the edge. Gillies has posted ridiculous numbers this year and was on last year's WJC team, making him the favorite to start. It will certainly be a battle in camp.