Despite it being the dog days of summer around the hockey world, a key event was officially announced this week. For the second year in a row, the NHL Rookie Faceoff – a tournament comprised of top prospects from six NHL teams – will be contested, this time in Irvine and hosted by the Anaheim Ducks.
Following up on last year’s successful tournament in Las Vegas, the 2019 edition will take place Sept. 7-10 at the Ducks’ sprawling new facility in South Orange County [ed note: If you haven’t been there, it’s absolutely amazing!]. Squaring off with the Ducks will be the Kings, Sharks, Golden Knights, Avalanche, and Coyotes. Each team will play three games, with Monday being an off day. Tickets are $10 and more information can be found here.
For the Kings, expect to see top prospects like Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Rasmus Kupari, Akil Thomas, Arthur Kaliyev, Mikey Anderson, Markus Phillips, Sean Durzi, and Tobias Bjornfot at the September 2019 event.
Two names you don’t see listed there: Gabe Vilardi and Alex Turcotte.
On Vilardi, the update is simple. There is nothing new to report. All parties are in a holding pattern and the best update possible was provided in a previous MayorsManor article:
“There are two questions everybody wants to know when Vilardi’s name comes up – When will he play again? Will he ever play again?
The truth is, nobody really knows the answer to either question. We’ve spent the better part of six months tracking his progress and talking to dozens of people closely connected to the situation. From the top of the Kings management pyramid all the way down, the answer is the same: We don’t know yet. So, while some outsiders want to predict what’s going to happen, that really isn’t helping anybody at this point. All parties are encouraged to take a breath and let the process play out.”
The Turcotte situation is much more straight forward. He will be attending the University of Wisconsin for the 2019-20 season. Therefore, he is ineligible to come to LA for training camp. Per NCAA rules, college players are only allowed to participate in summer Development Camps (and, even then, they’re supposed to pay their own way and stuff – but, we’re not getting into that level of minutia at the moment).
Further, Turcotte is not allowed to sign an Entry Level Contract with the Kings. Again, college players are forbidden from signing deals with their NHL clubs until after they turn pro. Per the CBA, Los Angeles will hold Turcotte’s rights through the end of his potential senior season at Wisconsin. So, there is no rush to sign him, he isn’t getting away. When will he turn pro? That remains to be seen. The Badgers have a great program, led by head coach Tony Granato. Yet, we don’t expect him to be there beyond two seasons.
You can expect to see Turcotte playing for another team this season, though. He should be the No. 1 center (and potential captain) for Team USA at the World Junior Championship in December. That tournament, the most prestigious event in the world for players 20 years and younger, should feature the most Kings prospects in history.
We believe the unofficial record is six Kings prospects at the actual WJC tournament. This week, at the summer evaluation camps in Plymouth, MI, there are already seven Kings prospects on rosters for just four countries. This list doesn’t include Kupari (Finland) or Lukas Parik (Czech Republic).
Kupari, who is expected to play in the AHL this season, is eligible to play for Finland at the WJC. From what we’ve gathered, he is not at the summer evaluation camp because the Kings wanted to minimize his travel back and forth to North America. He was already in SoCal for Development Camp at the end of June and he is preparing for his move here in a few weeks. Of course, he won a gold medal with Finland at the 2019 WJC back in January, defeating Anderson and Team USA in a thrilling game.
Parik, a Kings draft pick this year, was a standout for the Czech team at the U-18 Tournament and is expected to be one of the goaltenders on the U-20 team come December. With the WJC in his home country, Parik is itching to wear the Czech jersey again and we believe his playing for the WHL Spokane Chiefs this season will not be a problem.
Back to the Super Seven… You can catch Turcotte and Kaliyev (USA); Thomas and Aidan Dudas (Canada); Bjornfot and Samuel Fagemo (Sweden), and Kim Nousiainen (Finland) in action over the next few days. NHL Network is televising the final six games of the Summer Showcase, using the following schedule:
Wednesday, July 31
Canada v Finland, 10am
USA vs. Sweden, 1pm
Friday, August 2
Sweden v Canada, 10am
Finland v USA, 1pm
Saturday, August 3
Sweden v Finland, 10am
USA v Canada, 1pm
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