The six-day long 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase tournament finally wrapped up on Aug. 4, and the small competition featured some big names. Finland, Sweden, and the United States were all present, and the U.S. split their large squad into two groups to form four teams in total. Philadelphia Flyers prospects Cutter Gauthier, Devin Kaplan, and Cole Knuble played for both USA White and USA Blue.
Gauthier was one of the most impressive players of the entire competition, and spent some time at both center and left wing. The 2022 fifth-overall pick was most productive on the flank, playing with 2025 (!!) draft-eligible James Hagens and St. Louis Blues prospect Jimmy Snuggerud. Gauthier led all players in the tournament with four goals in four games, and scored five points in total. He was second only to the New Jersey Devils’ Lenni Hameenaho, who had seven points.
Most notable about Gauthier’s performance is the way he scored his goals. He ripped some shots, scored some greasy ones, and got to the front of the net. The Boston College talisman’s showcase campaign was a complete effort on both sides of the puck, and that has to feel good for the Flyers after he missed their development camp last month. In regards to Gauthier’s display, Chris Peters of FloHockey had this to say:
"“A one of USA’s key returnees, Gauthier’s maturity and strength were noticeable in this event. He’s confident and feels like he should be a dominant player, so he plays the game hard, fast and with plenty of skill. His scoring ability makes him a continual threat. But he really had that competitive edge here, too. There just aren’t many puck battles he’s going to lose and he can create in the blink of an eye when he does have the puck. Gauthier played both center and wing in the event and it didn’t seem to matter which one he played. Either way, he made an impact on his team, with four goals and an assist in the tournament.”"
Peters’ full report on the USA standouts, including words on Knuble, can be found here.
Knuble, son of Mike, also turned in a noteworthy performance in the shadow of Gauthier. The 19 year old played in each of the four games, scoring two goals and an assist. He went pointless in two games with USA Blue, but had all three of his points come with USA White. Like Gauthier, Knuble also spent time at both center and wing. It’s starting to seem like the 2023 fourth-round pick is building some sleeper NHLer potential early on.
Kaplan had a less impressive tournament than his fellow Flyers and USA teammates. The Bridgewater, N.J. native had just one assist in four games, and the assist was a bit of an empty one. USA White was beating USA Blue 7-2 with a little more than six minutes to go in the game before Kaplan sent the puck up the wall to the New York Islanders’ Quinn Finley, who scored on a breakaway to make it 7-3.
Kaplan has never been a huge offensive talent anyway, so it will be more important to watch how he continues to grow his game not only there, but in the physical and defensive areas as well. If the Flyers continue to stockpile top-tier talents, they’ll eventually need guys in that same age group to do the dirty work as well. Overall, the Flyers should be pleased with the results of this tournament as they shift their attention towards their training camp and preseason.