Flyers Players to Watch at 2023 World Juniors

It’s almost Christmas, the greatest time of the year. Other than looking forward to Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve and spending time with friends and family, there’s one thing that hockey fans are looking forward to all year round… The IIHF World Junior Championship.

2022 was an odd one for the World Juniors, the original dates had been set for Dec. 26, 2021, and would run until Jan. 5, 2022, with games in Edmonton, AB and Red Deer, AB. Unfortunately, after just three games had been played multiple teams reported Covid-19 cases amongst their ranks, and the tournament came to a halt.

Related: 2023 Guide to the World Junior Championship

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Eventually, the tournament resumed in August, and team Canada was victorious, but it wasn’t the same not having around the happiest time of the year and sharing those moments cheering on your respected team with family and friends.

Well, the tournament is back on and ready to roll; as for the Philadelphia Flyers, two draft picks will be representing their countries this year, Brian Zanetti and Cutter Gauthier.

Brian Zanetti

Standing at six-foot-three, the defenseman from Switzerland was drafted in the fourth round, 110th overall, to the Flyers in 2021. Currently playing for the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Zanetti has five points (two goals and three assists) in 27 games. In 2021-22 he had 26 points (four goals and 22 assists), not bad for a defenseman if you ask me.

Brian Zanetti Peterborough Petes
Brian Zanetti, Peterborough Petes (Brandon Taylor/OHL Images)

This won’t be his first rodeo playing in the World Juniors; Zanetti also played last year in 2022, posting two assists in four games of play. Switzerland was unfortunately beaten out by Canada (6-3) in the quarter-finals last year, but the young defenseman still shone as he was one of the two NHL draft picks who wore their countries’ colours for team Switzerland in August. This past March, Zanetti discussed the importance of the tournament to him with his OHL team, and the special feeling it gives when playing against guys from back home, “these tournaments are always a great opportunity and it has been great to play with the best Swiss players my age and to get to play with guys that I’m normally playing against in the Swiss league back home.”

Zanetti is a left-shooting defenseman who has a quick response to plays on the ice and securing the puck. He’s a big body on the ice in terms of height and is still learning his game with his size, but as his stats show, he’s definitely someone who can help produce with some secondary scoring and clearly making the plays he needs to get his team to score. Switzerland will need someone to help them engage in all situations throughout the game, and Zanetti should be an excellent fit to help them accomplish this.

Cutter Gauthier

The Flyers’ most recent first pick of 2022 showed a lot of promise and gave all of us fans another little glimpse of hope. Gauthier was drafted in the first round, fifth overall in the 2022 NHL entry-level draft to our beloved Flyers. Gauthier is currently playing in the NCAA with Boston College, and in 13 games, he’s already managed to showcase his shot with 10 goals and six assists for a total of 16 points; needless to say, the freshman isn’t holding back his skill on the ice.

Cutter Gauthier USNTDP
Cutter Gauthier, USNTDP (Rena Laverty / USA Hockey’s NTDP)

The six-foot forward has an incredible knack for finding the back of the net and can shoot in all situations, whether it is a tight slot or quite the opposite. Regardless of the play on the ice, he drives with the puck and creates positive results for his team. The term ‘power-forward’ isn’t used lightly in the NHL, and Paul Zuk describes the idea of Gauthier fitting perfectly within that description, “there’s a certain level of physicality that a true “power-forward” brings with his game, and Gauthier is certainly capable of that. He’s able to consistently out-muscle attackers off the puck in the defensive zone, or he can force an offensive zone turnover for the opposing team by delivering a booming bodycheck.”

He’ll be representing the U.S.A for the tournament, but unlike Zanetti, this will be his first go at the tournament. Gauthier will be expected to play amongst the top lines this tournament and be heavily relied on as a top-end forward. He’ll most likely be amongst players like Logan Cooley with the Arizona Coyotes and Jimmy Snuggerud from the St. Louis Blues, which should make this U.S.A team very exciting to watch.

Waiting Patiently

There’s lots to be excited about in this tournament, and with two Flyers prospects looking to take home some hardware this year, it makes it even more enjoyable. For now, we will all have to wait patiently for the tournament to officially kick off on Dec. 26, 2022, with Zanetti and team Switzerland facing off against Finland in the opening game. Gauthier will make his World Junior debut later in the day against Latvia.

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