Alex Appleyard provides weekly updates of Flyers prospects in Europe here at Sons of Penn. You can find him on Twitter at @avappleyard for live updates and conversation regarding the young guns overseas and the big club here at home in Philadelphia.
It has not been the best week for the Flyers young defenseman and goalies across the pond. While some have made the most of limited opportunities, injuries and a lack of playing time have inhibited the others.
David Bernhardt (defenseman)
After starting the season in impressive style and climbing his way to a regular SHL slot, Bernhardt is now back down in the Swedish juniors after his club Djurgårdens solidified their defense with the signings of multiple veterans.
But it is quite apparent that the young Swede is simply a cut above at the junior level. Over the last week the heavy shooting defenseman has played three game for the junior section of his hometown club. Over the course of those games he has posted one goal and three assists. Bernhardt now leads all defensemen in points-per-game in the J20 with 1.29, and even more impressively is sixth overall among regular junior players in PPG.
The Swedish transfer deadline has now passed, so he cannot be loaned out to an Allsvenskan club, which would arguably be his ideal level. The big defenseman is objectively too good for the J20, and will surely elevate his side for as long as he continues to play at that level. Hopefully as Djurgårdens wind down their SHL season the Flyers prospect will be required for spot duty – team management have already seen him acquit himself well at the highest level possible in Sweden, and can surely trust him to help the senior side as the season comes to a close.
SHL: 27gp, 2g, 5a, 7p, +7
CHL: 4gp, 0g, 0a, 0p, +0
J20 SuperElit: 14gp, 7g, 11a, 18p, +4
Linus Högberg (defenseman)
For Högberg the end of the last update finished in an extremely positive manner. He has just came back from lining up for the Sweden under nineteen squad on the first pairing – historically that is a solid indicator that a player will be close to a lock for the WJC in the subsequent season.
However, after that ‘high’ Högberg was confronted with the biggest roadblock in his season so far upon his return to senior hockey and the Allsvenskan. Playing on the first pairing for Björklöven the future Flyer blocked a shot with the inside of his skate. At the time the incident did not appear to be problematic as Högberg finished out the game with close to nineteen minutes of ice time. However, a scan the next day revealed that he had broken a bone in his foot, and as a result would miss the next five weeks of hockey. Given that his side have only five games left in the regular season – and are currently fighting against being in the relegation playoff spots – they will likely miss the smooth skating defenseman, who had almost immediately established himself as their best player in his own zone.
If the team avoid finishing in Sweden’s second tier’s bottom two places his season is almost certainly over. However, if they do end up fighting against relegation the round robin ‘play-out’ will extend into early April, and Högberg would be key if that stage is ventured into.
SHL: 35gp, og, 4a, 4p, +0
Allsvenskan: 3gp, 0g, 0a, 0p, -1
CHL: 11gp, og, oa, +3
SuperElit: 11gp, 1g, 8a, 9p, -2
Felix Sandström (goalie)
Sandström has only played once since the last update. The play of veteran netminder David Rautio combined with an international break have meant the agile young goalie has not had much opportunity to strut his stuff in arguably the world’s third best league.
The one game he did play in that time was not a tour de force – though frankly he was not the reason for that. He managed to eke out a 6-5 overtime win against Djurgårdens in a game where his defense gave up a large amount of high percentage shots. Five goals against may not seem like a solid performance – but every goal was either in-close, an uncontested shot or a mistake by the defense. Sandström still saved 30 shots in a game where his team were outplayed by the opponents, and in doing so saw them through the fire and up the standings into a more comfortable position.
The most impressive thing about Sandström is that he finds a way to win. Be it 1-0 or 6-5, he comes up with clutch saves when it matters. The team in-front of him have not exactly acquitted themselves well defensively this season, but he has managed to bail them out at key moments, and in doing so has put together an extremely impressive record.
SHL: 16gp, 11w, 3l, 2sol, .904sv%, 2.38 GAA
Ivan Fedotov (goalie)
The last week or so has been uneventful for the towering Flyers goalie prospect. Earlier in the month he impressed with two starts in which he dominated. However, since then he has once again been relegated to the bench behind two older goalies who he has objectively outperformed over the course of the season.
We feel for you Ivan. On merit you should be a VHL starter and pushing for a KHL slot as backup, but instead you are eating popcorn in a press box.
VHL: 7gp, 5w, 2l, .931sv%, 1.72 GAA
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