We’ve entered that part of the season where the prospect landscape changes a bit. For starers, there is less on ice action for certain teams around the holiday break, especially for college players. Meanwhile, others have left their actual teams and headed to various camps for their home countries, as preparations are well underway for the upcoming World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic – which kick off next week on Boxing Day. Yes, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
What's the commonality?
+ Kucherov, Laine, Stamkos, Hedman, Weber, Ovechkin, Getzlaf, Oshie, Doughty etc
All played at the #WorldJuniors
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) December 14, 2019
The Kings have nine players invited to their respective camps:
CAN – Aidan Dudas, Akil Thomas
CZE – Lukáš Pařík
FIN – Kim Nousiainen, Rasmus Kupari
SWE – Samuel Fagemo, Tobias Björnfot
USA – Alex Turcotte, Arthur Kaliyev
Aside from the United States, most of the rosters have endured cuts and potential participants have been sent home. All signs point to the Kings nine making it through to the tournament (more below).
Samuel Fagemo: Forward, Frölunda HC, SHL (2nd round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 6 goals, 5 assists, plus-4, 4 PIM in 20 games played
As noted in previous Prospect Trackers, players overseas often play in several tournaments on top of their assigned league. In the case of Frölunda, the returning CHL champs are hopeful of a repeat performance. In the quarterfinals, the Indians got revenge in Game 2 against Biel-Bienne with a 4-3 win. However, these tournaments are a bit different – each round only sees the teams play their opponent twice. In the event of a split in games, goal differential is used to determine the winner. However, since Biel won the first contest 3-2, their goal differential was even. Overtime was used to settle this matchup. With an unusual 5-3 “overtime” win, Frölunda advanced to CHL’s semifinals.
As if Fagemo has not received enough good news, he was also added on Team Sweden’s WJC roster along with fellow 2019 Kings pick and countryman Tobias Björnfot. While the roster is not set in stone quite yet, both are expected to wear Tre Kronor on December 26th.
Jacob Moverare: Defense, Frölunda HC, SHL (4th round pick in 2016)
Regular season: 5 goals, 6 assists, plus-13, 6 PIM in 23 games played
No SHL action this week for Moverare and company, yet he picked up an assist in the aforementioned 5-3 overtime win to help his team stay alive in CHL tournament play.
Kim Nousiainen: Defense, KalPa, Liiga (4th round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 2 goals, 5 assists, minus-4, 24 PIM in 30 games played
It’s all about Team Finland and the WJC right now, with the junior national team having already made 11 cuts to their roster — and only two more to go before finalizing the group. Fellow Kings prospect Rasmus Kupari, who was part of the gold medal winning team last year, is a virtual lock for the team. Defending their crown from last year will be a challenge, as they will be without top players Kaapo Kakko (NHL) and Anton Lundell (2020 top prospect out due to injury), but we expect both Kings draft picks to play big roles.
— The Armchair Scout (@Davidenkness) December 12, 2019
Bulat Shafigullin: Forward, Reaktor Nizhnekamsk, KHL (3rd round pick in 2018)
Regular season: 9 goals, 8 assists, plus-7, 10 PIM in 12 games played (MHL)
0 goals, 0 assists, minus-1, 0 PIM in 2 games played (KHL)
The Russian scorer remains out of his KHL lineup, and he did not receive an invite from Russia for participating in their respective World Junior camp. Him missing out on playing time is disappointing on both fronts, but we remain patient and hope he laces them up again soon.
NCAA + USHL
Braden Doyle: Defense, Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL (6th round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 5 goals, 12 assists, plus-8, 2 PIM in 22 games played
The native of Lynnfield, MA enjoyed another productive week. His one goal and two assists since our last update extended his scoring streak to five contests. Further, his performance pushed him to third overall in blueline scoring in the league and sixth on his team. He’s certainly leading from the backend – his 17 points almost triples the next defenseman on Dubuque, who only has six. The Fighting Saints also remain defensively vigilant, allowing only 45 goals, while the next best team has given up 54.
This gives the 18yr old blueliner 14 pts in 20 GP this season. Headed to Boston Univ next. https://t.co/163X7fRNYl
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) December 11, 2019
Dávid Hrenák: Goalie, St. Cloud State University Huskies, NCHC (5th round pick in 2018)
Regular season: 5-6-4, 3.04 GAA, .887 SV%, 0 SO in 16 games played
The Slovak netminder backed his pack of Huskies to a decisive 4-1 win one evening. Then, the following night, he was pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Since St. Cloud came back and lost in overtime, the mid-round pick of 2018 had a no-decision added to his record. One side note, as we’ve focused heavily on World Junior representation, he is too old to join the tournament.
Cole Hults: Defense, Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten (5th round pick in 2017)
Regular season: 4 goals, 12 assists, plus-13, 16 PIM in 19 games played
Like with Hrenák, Hults is not eligible for the WJC due to his age. However, the blueliner continues to provide steady defense and scoring for Penn State and sits just outside the top-five in defensive scoring. This week, he contributed two apples while the Nittany Lions split the weekend with Notre Dame. Expectations are mounting for this team in the second half of the season.
Andre Lee: Forward, UMass-Lowell River Hawks, Hockey East (7th round pick in 2019)
Regular Season: 4 goals, 8 assist, plus-7, 12 PIM in 17 games played
Lee endures a bit of a vacation, as the River Hawks didn’t play this past week and he did not receive an invite to be part of Sweden’s WJC camp. Perhaps disappointing for him — as he will not be eligible to compete next year — yet the omission isn’t an indictment of his potential. Sweden only has so many spots, and the incredibly skilled team has 48 straight WJC preliminary wins. With his size and skill, he’s a classic late bloomer who still has plenty of promise.
Alex Turcotte: Forward, Wisconsin Badgers, Big Ten (1st round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 6 goals, 9 assists, minus-9, 10 PIM in 16 games played
With little surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, Turcotte was invited to be part of Team USA’s roster for the WJC. As Jack Hughes will not be released for the tournament, we expect the most recent fifth overall pick to take over as top pivot. No cuts have been made from Team USA’s camp yet, however we consider Los Angeles’ potentially future captain to be a lock. Even better, he’s expected to have Arthur Kaliyev on his wing.
Canadian Junior Leagues
Aidan Dudas: Forward, Owen Sound Attack, OHL (4th round pick in 2018)
Regular season: 11 goals, 19 assists, plus-12, 10 PIM in 23 games played
Dudas did travel with Team Canada to the Czech Republic. This is significant news, as he didn’t participate in the initial portion of WJC camp due to an injury to his finger. He is participating in drills. Team Canada had a lot of very skilled and healthier options to join them, so the Hunter brothers hanging their hats on Dudas shows a great deal of confidence and trust he can shoulder the responsibility and aid in Canada’s medal hopes.
Keep in mind, some late additions may still be added, but from what we’re hearing, it’s Dudas’ spot to lose. If he is healthy enough to play, he’s a lock for the team.
Jacob Ingham: Goalie, Kitchener Rangers, OHL (6th round pick in 2018)
Regular season: 12-3-3, 2.78 GAA, .922 SV%, 1 SO in 18 games played
There are perhaps few players, particularly in Los Angeles’ pipeline, who are as unheralded as Ingham. He picked up another pair of wins, including a 28-save shutout, and also was recognized for the first and second star of the two contests he backstopped. The lanky netminder was just seven seconds shy of hitting the 100-minute shutout plateau, and this performance along with their recent coaching change seems to put Kitchener back on track.
Pavel Gogolev's 23rd of the year (and Teddy Bear goal) ends a shutout string of 99 minutes and 53 seconds for Kitchener's Jacob Ingham.
— Josh Brown (@BrownRecord) December 14, 2019
Arthur Kaliyev: Forward, Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL (2nd round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 31 goals, 31 assists, plus-2, 20 PIM in 33 games played
While the cat’s away, the mice will play. #ArtyParty was in full effect as Kaliyev continued to rack up points even though Connor McMichael, Quinton Byfield, and Jan Jenik had all left for their respective WJC camps. Said absences from OHL action allowed the Kings second round pick to separate himself in offensive production. In three games this past week, the USA invitee picked up another seven points (3 G, 4 A). We do expect him to compete hard for a spot on the US roster, and if he secures one, he should open up alongside Turcotte against Canada on Boxing Day.
Kaliyev currently leads the Ontario Hockey League in goals and points, and he picked up two more assists in Hamilton’s 5-2 win before their holiday break. He is two goals shy of tying Hamilton’s franchise record (Matthew Strome – 115). That will have to wait until after World Juniors. Then comes the real question, will be traded before the OHL Trade Deadline on January 10?
Tons of local talent on the USA WJC preliminary roster. NYers Beecher, Kaliyev, Mastrosimone, Pinto, and Zegras. Samuelsson from NJ, and Knight from CT. Team USA will be one of the favorites. pic.twitter.com/TBoeKY8qMX
— Tri-State Hockey (@TriState_Hockey) December 10, 2019
Lukáš Pařík: Goalie, Spokane Chiefs, WHL (3rd round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 9-2-2, 2.59 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 Shutouts in 13 games played
Pařík had bigger fish to fry than getting WHL action this week. He’s currently competing for a roster spot for WJC host Czech Republic. We are happy to say he survived the first round of cuts, and three goaltenders remain. He isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, let alone a start, but this is an exciting opportunity for the hopeful host. From what we hear, he will most likely be the No. 2 goalie for the Czechs, behind Anaheim Ducks prospect Lukas Dostal. NOTE: This was discussed in more detail on the most recent Kings of the Podcast episode.
Jordan Spence: Defense, Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL (4th round pick in 2019)
Regular season: 3 goals, 21 assists, plus-21, 14 PIM in 29 games played
While not invited to Canada’s camp, Spence has the benefit of time and another opportunity next year. As such, he can continue focusing on his game and his team, providing steady offense and defense for the QMJHL’s third best team. He’s riding a three-game point streak (1 G, 2 A in that span), and nearly doubling the second blueliner on Moncton with points-per-game. A coaching change was made, so we’ll have to monitor that situation moving forward.
LA Kings prospect Jordan Spence (2019 Draft) is one of the team's top defensemen…
Kings fans may also remember Torchetti's infamous 12 game run behind the bench in LA, just before Lombardi was hired in April 2006 and cleaned house. https://t.co/w3xdimUZbF
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) December 15, 2019
Akil Thomas: Forward, Niagara IceDogs, OHL (2nd round pick in 2018)
Regular season: 15 goals, 29 assists, plus-2, 30 PIM in 27 games played
It’s the utility forward’s last opportunity to wear the maple leaf on his chest as a junior. Like Dudas, Thomas survived the cuts by Team Canada, strongly suggesting he will be lacing up the skates on December 26. He played in both tilts against U Sports in his WJC camp but didn’t register a point.
We strongly feel his ability to play all forward positions (and even as a defenseman in a pinch) has all but secured him a spot on the roster, but late additions may change plans. As we understand things, he will most likely alternate between center and playing wing for Team Canada at the WJC – with most of his action expected to come on the right side.
Keep in mind, this Weekly Tracker only covers prospects not playing professional hockey in North America. In essence, the report serves to provide updates on all players in the pipeline — signed or unsigned — excluding those in the NHL, AHL, and ECHL.
NOTE: Author David Hofreiter can be found on Twitter @Davidenkness if you’re interested in talking more hockey with him or asking further questions about these players.