ST. PAUL, Minn. - When Canada announced its roster for the upcoming World Junior Championships yesterday, there was little doubt Flyers first-round pick Scott Laughton would be among the group.
Laughton, 19, was sent back to the OHL after breaking training camp with the Flyers. He has posted an impressive 21 goals and 21 assists in only 25 games with the Oshawa Generals.
The real coup for the Flyers, though, was the addition of fourth-round pick Taylor Leier. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren called it a "pleasant surprise."
"I'm excited for Taylor," Holmgren said. "I know he's played very well. I felt Scott would be there all along. But with Taylor, I think that just goes to show you. He's a fourth-round pick. And if you've watched him for any period of time, he's just a good hockey player."
Leier, 19, was drafted by the Flyers two summers ago at 117th overall. He is the second-latest drafted player to make Canada's team, which will compete for its first gold medal since 2009 in Sweden from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
Leier, a forward, popped up on the national team's radar after scoring a few clutch goals for the WHL's Portland Winterhawks in the playoffs last spring. Holmgren likes Leier because he "plays a 200-foot game." Holmgren was a bit surprised to see Leier on Canada's roster, but not too surprised, because scout Mark Greig has always pushed for Leier.
"[I'm not surprised] just because of my knowledge for Mark Greig and how he does his work," Holmgren said. "Mark has always been a huge fan. He just said, 'This kid is going to find a way to play.' Obviously, being added today to that roster, it shows Taylor has put in the work."
Team USA will announce its roster tomorrow morning. Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz is expected to make the squad. Defenseman and second-round pick Shayne Gostisbehere, who helped the U.S. to a gold medal last year, is ineligible for the under-20 tournament because he is 20.
Forward Vinny Lecavalier sat out last night's game with back spasms. As Lecavalier tried to pull on a shirt in the locker room yesterday, his pain was obvious.
"This is something totally new for me," said Lecavalier, who said he never suffered back spasms in his 14 seasons in Tampa Bay. "It's just something I'm trying to work through with the trainers right now."
Holmgren said the back spasms popped up late in the third period in Nashville on Saturday night. Lecavalier battled through it and even scored the Flyers' only goal in the shootout. Holmgren is hoping Lecavalier will be ready to play in time for tomorrow night's game in Detroit.
"We're losing a very good centerman," coach Craig Berube said. "There's some dynamics that change on the power play and stuff like that . . . Brayden Schenn has played a lot of center, pretty well his whole life. This is a pretty good opportunity for him."