If international competition excites you – and I’m not talking Human Development Index here – the next seven months represent a high point of sports fandom.

The World Junior Championships are approaching and will be followed by February’s Winter Olympics and next June’s World Cup. The official LAKI position towards these tournaments is that the blog remains fiercely neutral in all competitions that don’t make me chant U-S-A U-S-A from my couch.

In regards to World Juniors, a pair of Kings prospects will look to earn the opportunity to represent their countries in the tournament that kicks off on December 26 in Malmo, Sweden.

Looking to represent the United States is Hudson Fasching, one of Los Angeles’ fourth round draft picks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Fasching, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Minnesota, has 14 points (6-8=14) in his first 14 college games, and was recently projected as a candidate to earn a depth role by Chris Peters of The United States of Hockey. Peters also gave Fasching a strong review following his performance at the United States’ summer evaluation camp.

When the preliminary roster was announced, The United States of Hockey profiled Fasching.

Fasching is probably best around the net with the puck on his stick. He’s a hard guy to get it away from because of his 6-2, 200-pound frame. Additionally, his hand skills look to be improving as he has a little more control with the puck and has development some strong distribution skills. Fasching probably could slot in safely on Team USA’s third line and provide some energy and scoring depth. I don’t see him as a big producer this year, but he’ll help. How far he has come over the last year is pretty remarkable. LA was lucky he fell to 118th last draft.

Looking to defend its gold medal, the United States will be coached by Don Lucia, who also coaches Fasching at Minnesota.

180938747NG023_COYOTES_KINGS.JPGValentin Zykov has also been named to Russia’s preliminary roster. Considering he has followed up his 40-goal, 17-year-old season with 13 goals and 32 points through 27 games with the first-place Baie-Comeau Drakkar and has previously represented Russia in the U-17 Hockey Challenge (he was ineligible to play in U-18s last year due to Baie-Comeau’s postseason success), the 18-year-old should be seen as a near-lock to make the cut and participate in his first World Junior Championships.

Recently, John Hoven of Mayor’s Manor featured Zykov on LAKings.com.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Dominik Kubalik was not named to the Czech Republic’s preliminary World Junior Championships roster.

Introducing: Hudson Fasching
Introducing: Valentin Zykov

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League

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Alec martinez

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 210 lb | Age: 29

Born: July 26, 1987
Birthplace: Rochester Hills, MI, USA
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Martinez was drafted by the LA Kings in the 2007 Draft, while playing for Miami University. He has since become a two-time Stanley Cup champion and the 17th man in Stanley Cup playoff history to score the Cup-winning goal in overtime.

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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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