Happy Monday, Insiders!
Light weekend here from myself on LAKI – I was away on Island Time and stepped away from the computer for a few days. Felt good, but back and focused here for the next couple of months! A couple of news hits nonetheless, led by the re-signings of Gabe Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan on one-year contracts, covered on Saturday by Jared Shafran. Today, however, we’re moving onto the prospects, with several future Kings set to participate in their respective National Team selection camps over the coming days, with many of those camps getting underway this past weekend.
Several Kings prospects skated with their fellow countrymates this weekend and will continue to do so into this week, in preparation for both the 2022 and 2023 World Junior Championships. The 2022 tournament was cancelled midway through and was rescheduled for early-August, with three Kings prospects appearing likely to reprise their roles in that tournament and the possibility of one or two more being added pending the results of the camp. Forward Martin Chromiak, however, will not play in the 2022 tournament due to health issues. Chromiak did not participate in LA Kings development camp a couple of weeks back and will miss out on his final under-20 tournament this summer. Chromiak was expected to be a key player for Slovakia after he potted two goals against the United States back in the first run through of the tournament in December.
Among those who are participating, however, are defenseman Helge Grans (Sweden) and the Finnish trio of Kasper Simontaival, Samuel Helenius and Otto Salin.
Grans, who is eligible only for the 2022 tournament, figures to be a top performer on Team Sweden in this year’s tournament, after he collected three assists in two games during the first go through. He has already been named to Sweden’s final tournament roster. We caught up with Grans at Kings development camp and will have a full feature piece on the young blueliner in advance of the tournament. The 20-year-old blueliner is set to join his teammates for their pre-tournament camp beginning on Friday, with the team beginning its practice schedule on Sunday, July 31. Sweden will play in two pre-tournament exhibition games before beginning round-robin play of the tournament proper.
For Team Finland, Helenius and Simontaival are expected to participate in the 2022 tournament after both players were selected to the original roster back in December and re-named for the summer edition. Simontaival is eligible only for the 2022 tournament, while Helenius could participate in both events, having already skated in the 2021 tournament as an underaged player. Salin, a 2022 draft pick, was named to Finland’s “challenger” squad, comprised mainly of younger players who are eligible for future cycles. Salin is unlikely to play in the 2022 tournament but will compete for a spot on the 2023 team. Both the tournament team and the challenger team will skate in exhibition games this week against Switzerland and the Czech Republic, beginning tomorrow.
Here in North America, defenseman Brandt Clarke and forwards Francesco Pinelli, Kenny Connors Jack Hughes are participating in selection camps with Canada and the United States respectively.
Clarke was a surprising omission from the originally announced 2022 squad and will now compete for a place in the summer tournament here in the coming days, with the young blueliner also eligible for the 2023 tournament this winter. Team Canada broke camp on Saturday, with Clarke representing Team Red and Pinelli, also eligible for the 2023 tournament, representing Team White. The two sides will feature in exhibition games today and Wednesday, with today’s scrimmage available to watch HERE and Wednesday’s scrimmage available to watch HERE.
Hughes and Connors are with USA Hockey this week, with the United States running the selection camps for both the 2022 and 2023 tournaments together. The depth for the US squad will likely prevent a player such as Hughes, with three tournaments worth of eligibility, from skating in this season’s edition, but both he and Connors will look to contend for a spot on the 2023 roster. USA Hockey is running a long camp, which began with the 2023 group on the ice yesterday in Plymouth, MI. The two individuals could be with that group for eight days, with several practice sessions and scrimmage opportunities over the course of the week. The full schedule for USA Hockey’s camp is available HERE.
The rescheduled World Juniors provides us with a unique opportunity here this summer to catch prospects from the Kings and around the NHL in action during August, which is typically the dog days of summer in terms of live hockey content. With selection camps this week, followed by the tournament beginning on August 9 in Edmonton, we’ll have plenty of content coming your way regarding the younger Kings players.