Flyers News & Rumors: World Juniors, ECHL Affiliation, Forward Depth

While the Philadelphia Flyers won’t begin training camp for over a month, plenty of activity below the NHL level is taking place in August. The franchise announced the extension of its ECHL affiliation on Monday, and four of the organization’s prospects are taking part in the World Junior Championships (WJC) in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.

Flyers at the World Juniors

Four Flyers prospects are competing in the WJC this year after COVID-related obstacles pushed the tournament from its normal schedule during the holiday season back to August. Elliot Desnoyers and Tyson Foerster helped Team Canada to a 5-2 victory in their opening game of the qualifying round over Team Latvia while lauded prospect Connor Bedard stole the show with a goal and an assist. Both Philadelphia prospects are likely to begin the 2022-23 season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Emil Andrae, Philadelphia’s second-round pick in 2020, helped Team Sweden to a 3-2 victory over Team Switzerland. He logged over 24 minutes of ice time in the tournament opener. He recorded two shots on goal (SOG) and finished as a plus-2. Brian Zanetti, Philadelphia’s fourth-round pick in 2021, came out on the losing end with Team Switzerland. He recorded one SOG in 14:25 of ice time. 

Because of Andrae’s lengthy experience in world competition, Bill Meltzer expects the 5-foot-8 “fireplug” to play a major role for the Swedes. He will move up to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), the nation’s highest professional level, next season after a star effort in the second level Hockey Allsvenskan in 2021-22. The Athletic ranked him as the sixth-best prospect in the system (from The Athletic, “Top 20 Flyers prospects: Cam York, Egor Zamula and Bobby Brink a cut above the rest,” 2/22/22). Experts project Zanetti as a puck-moving defenseman. He will play his second season with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2022-23.

Related: 2022 World Juniors Schedule, Groups, Rosters, Predictions & More

Team Canada will face off against Slovakia at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, and Team Switzerland will follow at 10 p.m. against Team USA. Sweden will match up against Austria on Friday at 2 p.m. 

Flyers Extend Affiliation with Reading Royals

The Flyers announced the extension of the closest affiliation chain in professional hockey with an agreement for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons with the Reading Royals of the ECHL. The extension includes an option for 2024-25. The Royals became part of the system in 2014. They previously spent time affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals. 

Reading Royals
Reading Royals, Philadelphia Flyers, and Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Image courtesy Reading Royals

Max Willman, Felix Sandström, Hayden Hodgson, Tyrell Goulbourne, and Anthony Stolarz all had stints with Reading before appearing in the NHL with the Flyers. Two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick played 38 games for the Royals in 2007-08. Other notable NHL goaltenders with stints include Philipp Grubauer, James Reimer, Ben Scrivens, and Michael Hutchinson.

TSN Low on Flyers

Travis Yost of TSN continued his series separating each NHL team into five tiers based on their depth at each position, and he is not impressed with the forward depth of the Flyers. He ranked them in the bottom tier for left wingers and the fourth tier for centers. The Flyers consider themselves set on the right side with Travis Konecny, Cam Atkinson, Owen Tippett, and Zack MacEwen, but Yost still placed them in the league’s third tier indicating an evaluation as an average group compared to the rest of the league.

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens Travis Konecny Philadelphia Flyers
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens and Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Flyers thought they reached the dawn of a new when they hit their stride in the second half of the 2019-20 season. The biggest strength of the team during the first season under head coach Alain Vigneault was the ability to roll four effective lines and wear teams down with a strong forecheck despite a lack of world-class, superstar talent on the top line. A low opinion of their forward depth just two years later is yet another indicator of their hard fall from grace in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

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