For Philadelphia Flyers fans who are looking for ways to watch their young prospects take flight, we are about 3 weeks away from the commencement of the World Junior Championships that are to be held between the 26th of December to the 5th of January in Sweden. It will be the 7th time that Sweden will be the host of the World Juniors.
The 10 teams involved in this year’s tournament include Canada, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Latvia – who make up Group A – and the Czech Republic, the United States, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Norway – who make up Group B. Due to the political climate, Russia and Belarus have once again been banned from the tournament as has been the case with every IIHF tournament held since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
With that, highly touted prospect Matvei Michkov will not be participating with Russia out of the loop, but the Flyers will have Cutter Gauthier (United States), Denver Barkey and Oliver Bonk (Canada), and Alex Čiernik (Slovakia) at least taking part with their inclusion in the preliminary rosters for their respective nations.
Gauthier is a no-brainer and a virtual lock for the loaded Americans. Last season he really stepped onto the international scene after he scored 4 goals and 10 points in 7 games at the WJC and then added 7 goals and 9 points in 10 games during the World Championships in the spring. He added 16 goals and 37 points in 32 games for Boston College in his freshman year and currently has 12 goals and 20 points through 16 games.
Gauthier joins a stacked class that includes Will Smith, Jimmy Snuggerud, Oliver Moore, Ryan Leonard, and Gabe Perrault among others.
As we shift towards Team Canada, the Flyers finally have a few hopefuls who look to don the red maple leaf this winter. The Flyers have strayed away from the Canadian leagues over the last few seasons outside of Tyson Foerster, but this year London Knights teammates in Barkey and Bonk look to showcase their skills for the hockey-crazed fanbase in Canada.
Barkey, who was drafted just this summer in the third round, has been an absolute spark plug for the Knights and has formed a dynamic duo with first round draft pick Easton Cowan of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Barkey has 15 goals and 37 points in just 27 games – good for 6th in the OHL – and is on pace for a 93-point season.
The 18-year-old Bonk, who was taken in the first round, has 6 goals and 28 points in 27 games for the Knights. He is on pace for 15 goals and 70 points in 68 games this season, which would be a 30-point improvement in 1 more game played.
The Canadians always bring a loaded team ready to contend for gold and this year is no different. Andrew Cristall, Riley Heidt, Owen Pickering, and Flyers goaltending prospect Carson Bjarnason were some notable players left off the preliminary roster.
Barkey will be competing against the likes of Owen Beck, Macklin Celebrini, Nate Danielson, Fraser Minten, Carson Rehkop, Matthew Savoie, Matthew Wood, and Brayden Yager. While Bonk faces stiff competition of his own on the back-end with the likes of Tristan Luneau, Maveric Lamoreux, Tanner Molendyk, and Denton Mateychuk .
For Slovakia, Alex Čiernik will be joining a cast and crew that could surprise some of the more favoured nations in this year’s tournament. 6 OHLers who could push the Slovakians include Dalibor Dvorský, Filip Mešár, and Martin Misiak. Samuel Honzek and Šimon Nemec have been included as well.
Čiernik followed the trend of the Flyers 2023 draft of being a diamond in the rough that was drafted maybe a round or two later than expected. Čiernik has put up 4 goals and 12 points in 19 games for Västerviks IK of the HockeyAllsvenskan, which is the second-highest ranked league in Sweden. The 19-year-old should factor into the Slovakians’ plans this winter and someone Flyers fans should keep an eye on moving forward.
2024 Stadium Series Trip
Flyers Nation and Philly Sports Trips have teamed up to bring you on an amazing bus trip to the 2024 NHL Stadium Series between the Flyers and Devils. Place an early deposit to reserve your spot at the ultimate tailgate experience at MetLife Stadium before the game. The package includes a game ticket, round-trip charter bus, an all-inclusive tailgate party with unlimited cold beverages, “Philly Style” catered food, live entertainment, and more.