Starting on Dec. 26, the 2022 World Junior Championship promised to be a showcase of the best under-20 men’s talent in the world, which included three Flyers prospects — defenseman Emil Andrae (Sweden), forward Elliot Desnoyers (Canada), and defenseman Brian Zanetti (Switzerland).

However, the COVID-19 pandemic led the International Ice Hockey Federation to cancel the tournament just three days after its onset. Regardless of the World Juniors’ cancellation, we asked members of the Flyers organization, front-office members from the players’ current teams, and other scouting experts to analyze the games of Andrae, Desnoyers, and Zanetti.

» READ MORE: Flyers need others to step up with Sean Couturier placed on IR

For the first installment in a three-part series, here’s an in-depth look at Flyers prospect Emil Andrae:

Emil Andrae, Sweden

Bio

Age: 19

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 176 lbs.

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Club: HV71 (Hockeyallsvenskan, Sweden)

Drafted: 2020 Round 2, No. 54 overall

Overview

Andrae has spent the last four seasons playing at various levels for HV71, a club based in Jönköping, Sweden. HV71 currently plays in the HockeyAllsvenskan, which is the second tier of Swedish ice hockey.

This year, his second pro season with HV71, Andrae has registered 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists) in 21 games played, ranking second in scoring among defensemen on the team. HV71 has the best record in the Hockeyallsvenskan (23 wins, 7 losses) and could move back into the SHL next season.

Andrae has represented Sweden on the international stage on several occasions, and most recently captained the Under-20 team at World Juniors. In two games, Andrae registered a goal and an assist, helping Sweden to victories over Russia and Slovakia.

“He’s a natural leader without talking big or he doesn’t have to stand up in the locker room,” HV71 general manager Johan Hult said. “He can do that, too, but he’s been developing his leadership during the last year, too. He’s feeling more and more comfortable. I think it’s been a big honor for him to be the captain of the national team.”

At the conclusion of the HV71 season, Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said that he and other members of the front office will meet with Andrae and his agent to discuss the defenseman’s immediate future. However, Flahr doesn’t anticipate that Andrae will make the jump to North America next year.

“One thing Sweden does is develop defensemen really well over there,” Flahr said. “So I don’t think there’s a rush in bringing him over. He’s having a real strong year in the Allsvenskan. Think the plan next year to play in the elite league and have a big role there, and then bring him over.”

Strengths

At 5-foot-9, Andrae has worked to add strength over the last couple of years to compensate for his lack of height. In the past, Daily Faceoff NHL draft and prospects analyst Chris Peters said Andrae’s size used to be more of a problem. Now, and especially in his brief appearance at the World Juniors, Andrae showed his ability to play with physicality despite his height.

“He defends with not just his stick, but he’s also leaning on players, delivering body checks, and he’s just built out his strength so much more that he’s able to do that effectively,” Peters said.

Andrae’s game translates well to the North American-size rink, according to Flahr. In fact, Flahr asserts that it’s “probably even better for him” because of Andrae’s ability to read plays and sort his game out well with the puck.

“He’s just a really intelligent player on both sides of the puck,” Flahr said. “With the puck, he really moves it. He’s obviously good on the power play. He really sees the ice and anticipates the play well. But defensively, he’s a competitor.”

Areas of improvement

To take the next step in his career, Hult said, Andrae must work on being patient with the puck while still making quick decisions.

“Emil can be a little bit over-creative,” Hult said. “Sometimes he loses his patience in games and he wants to do too much. That’s what I mean with his patience. He needs to be patient with his game, that he doesn’t have to do so much with every shift. It can be OK with the simple play sometimes.”

Flahr is pleased with Andrae’s development and his ability to play in all situations, and he’s confident that the defenseman is on the right track to reaching his full potential.

“Alex Ovechkin’s a little different than defending against players over there,” Flahr said. “There’s things that he’ll need to learn as far as positioning and his footwork and whatnot, but he’s such a smart player. I don’t think it’s an issue.”

Player comparison

Peters likened Andrae to St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug, who is the same height. They have similar frames and play with “ferocity,” he said.

“I don’t know that he necessarily will have that offensive impact, but I think the thing about Krug that reminds me is that there’s some tenacity in the game,” Peters said. “The size is not a factor. I think that Krug might have a better goal-scoring ability, but Andrae’s got a lot of that puck-moving potential.”