Flyers well-represented at Canadian Junior Summer Showcase

Preparations are already being made for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be played in Helsinki, Finland. Canada, fresh off of their 2015 victory, will kick things off by inviting 40 players to their summer showcase in Calgary which will run from Aug. 1-6.

The Philadelphia Flyers will see three of their top prospects take part in the week-long camp which will act as the first phase in eventually determining the 22-man roster that will compete in Finland.

Travis Sanheim, the Flyers 2014 first-round pick is arguably one of the club's top prospects. This past season, he exploded for 65 points in 67 games with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League while playing under the tutelage of former Flyer and assistant coach Joel Otto.

Sanheim is a two-way defender who excels at moving the puck out of the defensive zone and is capable of controlling play as a quarterback on the point. After a productive development camp with the Flyers – his second – in which he and 2015 first-round pick Ivan Provorov were very clearly the top defensemen on the ice, Sanheim will look to impress at training camp in September and prove to the Flyers brass that he is not that far away from being ready to jump to the next level. 

Sanheim will undoubtedly be returning to his junior club for the 2015-16 season and as such, his focus will be to continue to improve and hopefully represent Canada at the World Junior Championship. The 6'4", 200-pound blueliner was one of the final defensive cuts for Team Canada this past season and will look to make the squad this year in part due to his impressive growth as a player and a leader. 

TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button is extremely high on Sanheim and has boldly declared the following:

"I think Travis Sanheim at the same age is like Ryan McDonagh. That’s what I see in Travis Sanheim. He’s a superb skater, a superb thinker, really calm and collected with the puck. He’s a guy who really has the ability as a defenseman to control the game, and those guys are hard to find."

Button would also add:

"Travis Sanheim is a slam-dunk pick. I think he’s the best 1996 defenseman in the world."

Hockey Canada, the Flyers and their fans hope Button's assessment comes to fruition. So far, so good. 

Nicolas Aube-Kubel was the 48th overall selection in the 2014 NHL Draft and the second Flyers pick after Travis Sanheim. Since being taken by Val-d'Or with the seventh pick in the 2012 QMJHL Entry Draft, he has steadily improved by registering 27 points in his first season, 53 in his second and 80 in his third in 2014-15, as he deposited 38 goals and 42 assists while posting a plus-13 rating. 

Like Sanheim, Aube-Kubel has assumed a leadership role with the Foreurs where he continues to hone is versatile, two-way style of play. First-year Flyers coach Dave Hakstol will love a player like Aube-Kubel who plays all 200 feet of the ice and has the work ethic to succeed in any position he is placed in. 

Aube-Kubel projects to be a top-nine forward with the Flyers; he hopes to fulfill the same role in Helsinki for Team Canada. 

Travis Konecny was born to play for the Philadelphia Flyers. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall made sure of that by trading up in the 2015 NHL Draft to select Konecny with the 24th overall pick. He is a naturally-born leader having captained teams in midget hockey as well as Canada's U17 squad and currently is the captain of the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League where he has posted 70 and 68-point seasons respectively. 

While incredibly talented and offensively gifted, it's Konecny's character that separates him from the rest. In fact, he was the inaugural recipient of the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence which will be presented annually to a draft-eligible prospect that exemplifies the commitment to excellence though strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Hextall said it best when proclaiming, "he's got the heart of a lion". 

At 5'10" and 175 pounds, it can be theorized that some don't necessarily view him as a top-level NHL superstar – hence his fall to 24th overall in the draft. The Flyers, however, are more than happy with what they see and when you add up all of Konecny's intangibles, you have the makings of a potential franchise player who is more than deserving of one of Canada's 22 spots in 2016. 

Zach Hopkins is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @healedbyhockey.

Go to top button