Good Morning, Insiders!
Perhaps a record-setting morning? The LA Kings could have as many as 10 players representing the organization at the upcoming World Junior Championships, beginning later this month, in Edmonton, Alberta.
The Kings have already had seven players confirmed to the tournament – Jordan Spence & Quinton Byfield (CAN) and Lukas Parik (CZE) yesterday, followed by Alex Turcotte, Arthur Kaliyev and Brock Faber (USA), as well as Kasper Simontaival (FIN) today.
Additionally, Swedish defensemen Tobias Bjornfot and Helge Grans, as well as Slovakian forward Martin Chromiak will travel to Edmonton with their respective countries, though both teams will still have additional cuts to make. Sweden will travel with 26 players, while Slovakia has 30 on their roster, with cuts still needed to get down to the tournament roster size of 25.
Last season, the Kings tied an NHL-club record (over the last five years) for most prospects participating in a tournament with nine, also the most ever in team history. This season’s total would surpass both the 2019 Kings and the 2017 Flyers if Bjornfot, Grans and Chromiak are selected to the final rosters. Bjornfot and Chromiak are reasoned to be relative locks, while Grans is less certain. 10 representatives would almost certainly be an NHL-high this winter as well.
For Team Canada, Byfield confirmed that he will participate in the entirety of the tournament before reporting to a potential NHL training camp, if there is an overlap. The Kings first-round selection from October has centered Canada’s second line since the team was announced, skating between Nashville’s 2019 first-rounder Philip Tomasino and Calgary’s 2020 first-round pick Connor Zary. Byfield is one of six returnees from last year’s gold-medal winning squad.
Spence, who is one of just two……TWO skaters on Canada’s roster that is not a first-round pick, has skated on the team’s second defensive pairing with Braden Schneider, a 2020 New York Rangers first-round selection. Every forward named to the roster was drafted in the first round. Wild.
Parik is one of two returning goaltenders for the Czech Republic and should have a good look at the starting net. He and Nick Malik both made last season’s team, but Parik started two games, as the number two behind Anaheim prospect Lukas Dostal, while Malik appeared in one game in reserve.
On the Team USA front, two COVID-related transactions led to an unorthodox roster configuration, with the team bringing nine defensemen as opposed to the expected eight. While Turcotte and Kaliyev were always likely to make the team as returning forwards, the extra defensive spot removed any doubts for Faber, though as one of just two right-shot blueliners he was also more probable than not to make the final cut.
Turcotte confirmed that he will spend the entire tournament with Team USA and will not leave early for any potential NHL training camp. He and Kaliyev, along with Ducks prospect Trevor Zegras, have skated together on a line during training camp so far. Quotes from both, as well as Faber, below.
Alex Turcotte on his approach as a returning player
Going through what we went through last year, finishing in sixth place, it was a tough pill to swallow. We were younger players on the team, we hadn’t gone through something like that before. Coming in [this year], we know how hard of a tournament it is, we know how important it is to bond as a team, and ultimately that leads to success on the ice. Our goal this year is to win a gold medal and nothing less than that.
Turcotte on the competitive nature of Team USA’s camp
It’s been great. Just being around the boys, hanging out with them, it’s been a lot of fun. These practices have been great, really competitive out there. We’ve been going pretty hard in practice, doing a lot of scrummaging, working on systems and situations that I haven’t been a part of in a long time. It’s been good to get acclimated and get the ball rolling. Looking forward to playing in some exhibition games and get started in the tournament.
Arthur Kaliyev on training camp
I think it’s been a pretty good couple of days. Lots of practices, lots of systems and lots of video. I think we’re all getting synced up together as a team, learning about each other and trying to be the best that we can out there as a team.
Kaliyev on playing on a line with Turcotte and Zegras
Yeah, it’s really exciting. I think we know each other, we’ve played with each other [a lot in the past]. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully it stays and we can show our best skill as a line.
Brock Faber on his familiarity with being back in Plymouth, where he was with the NTDP
It’s great to be back here, see all the guys again, and play in the rink that I practiced and played in for the last two years. Obviously excited for the tournament to get started here.
Faber on his pairing with Ryan Johnson (son of Craig)
Our games compliment each other, me being more of a defensive defenseman, and [Johnson] being more offensive, I think we work well together. He’s an awesome communicator and he’s awesome to have as a partner. I think ever since we’ve started playing together, we kind of just clicked. It’s been awesome playing with him and I’m looking forward to it in the future.
We will probably have to wait, at least for a bit, to see how the final Sweden and Slovakia rosters shape out. Sweden has had to remove several players, as well as their Head Coach, from camp due to COVID test results. Important to note that at this stage in the game, the IIHF has a one-strike protocol – a positive test rules a player or coach out from participating in the tournament. With those countries coming in from overseas, traveling extra players makes some sense.
All 10 participating teams are expected to enter the Edmonton bubble tomorrow. Teams will be quarantined to their hotel rooms for five days, and will be subjected to daily testing. Following that window, teams will each play two pre-tournament exhibition games, from December 20 – 23, with the tournament beginning on December 25. Full schedule available here.
We’ll have coverage of the event here on LA Kings Insider, in addition to additional content from the organization’s podcasts, website & social channels.