Flyers’ Barkey used World Junior Championship snub for motivation

Denver Barkey

      VOORHEES, N.J. – He was on his way to a big season with London of the Ontario Hockey League, so when Denver Barkey didn’t get a phone call regarding an invite to the World Junior Championships last year, things could have gone either one of two ways.

      The Flyers’ third-round pick (95th overall), a forward, in the 2023 NHL Draft could have sulked a bit. Or, he could shake it off and go about proving the selection committee wrong.

      Fortunately, he chose the latter and went on to have a brilliant campaign for London of the Ontario Hockey League. In 64 games, he posted 35 goals/102 points and helped lead the Knights to the Memorial Cup Finals.

      “To not make it, it was heartbreaking, a tough couple days (at WJC training camp) for me, it stung a bit,” Barkey said after Wednesday’s workout session during the Flyers development camp at the Flyers Training Center. “But you got to move on. My goal was to prove them wrong and use that to fuel the fire.

      “After I got cut there, I used that as motivation for the rest of the season to prove them wrong and just continue to grow as a player and a person.”

      The Newmarket, Ontario, Canada native didn’t want to dwell on the snub too long.

      “I kind of forgot about it a couple days later,” Barkey said. “I went on Christmas break and got my mind off hockey. Like I said, it stung a bit but I used it as motivation at different times throughout the season. Wouldn’t let it bother me but let it motivate me.”

      In fact, he’s been invited to this year’s WJC camp at the end of the month and he sounds determined to make it this time around.

      “I’m going to try to prove to them I belong on the team,” Barkey said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to show them that in the week that I’m on there.”

      In last year’s Memorial Cup championship game, Barkey’s London club lost to Sagninaw, 4-3, but Barkey and fellow Flyers prospect defenseman Oliver Bonk (2023 first-rounder) impressed everyone with their standout play.

      Now the two are taking part in the development camp and both appear to be oozing with confidence. These are two kids to keep an eye on.

      As for his association with Bonk, Barkey makes it clear it’s more fun when you go through the whole development experience when you’re with somebody that’s a good friend.

      “It’s been super cool ever since we were 16; we’ve been in London together,” Barkey said. “To watch each other grow and become brothers, close friends. It’s been a real cool experience and yeah, to come here it helps a lot just to know him well. He’s become such a fantastic player, with such a bright future. It’s been cool to watch each other grow. Hopefully we stay together throughout the long run.”

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      Berglund’s stock rises: While the Flyers have been known to think outside the box with some of their draft picks, they really went against some of the scouting services’ projection lists by taking Jack Berglund at No. 51.

      The Hockey News had him rated No. 97 and Elite Prospects had him at No. 131.

      Why does he think the Flyers had him rated so much higher? Was it a strong final season of play in Swedish professional hockey?

      “I just tried to work hard in the offseason really,” he said. “I got great opportunities from my coaches and my club (Farjestads) in Sweden, plus the national team. It was super fun to get those experiences and opportunities. That was a lot of great help.”

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      Defensemen have hope: With the Flyers going through a reconstruction period, several defensemen at the camp can allow themselves to dream about making it here to the NHL.

      Among the highest rated prospects: 2023 first-rounder Oliver Bonk, 2024 second-rounder Spencer Gill, and 2024 sixth-rounder Hunter McDonald.

      Player development coach Nick Schultz, who spent the final three years of his NHL career in a Flyers uniform, acknowledged the players can sense there is some hope of eventually making it to the top.

      “That’s been the messaging from up top, since (GM) Danny (Briere) and (president of hockey operations Keith) Jones took over,” Schultz said. “They’re looking for young players – that we have to draft well and develop.

      “I think our scouts have done a great job drafting well the last few years for developing. We look at  Egor Zamula was a (undrafted) tryout guy. He signed at development camp and now he’s playing for the Flyers. Cam York, first-round pick, went through the minors and he’s playing for the Flyers. They (camp attendees) understand they (players such as Zamula, York) are there and they can make the jump.”

      When there are tangible role models such as those, it makes it a lot easier to keep the young guys motivated.

      “It’s our jump to continue to work with them and push them but they know there’s an opportunity and you can it with what’s going on,” Schultz said. “Free agency, trades, there are 32 teams now there’s lot of action. And lots of spots in the organization. It’s our job to kind of timeline when they (the organization) can hopefully plug some of these young guys into lineup.”

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.