It came down to the wire.
With Team Sweden set to board a plane this morning for Edmonton and the World Junior Championship, they needed to eliminate one player from their camp roster to get down to the 25-player maximum. Unfortunately, LA Kings prospect Helge Grans was the last player cut. It was a somewhat predicable result, though, for a myriad of reasons. He is only 18 years old, the team Sweden roster was a bit stacked to begin with, and they still had nine defenseman listed prior to the final roster decision. With five other offensive minded blueliners in that group, the odds just weren’t in his favor. On a more positive note, Grans should be a strong candidate for next year’s team.
Overall, LA’s nine prospects – made up of five forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender – ties their own record set last year, when they also sent nine players to the annual festivities. While leading all NHL teams with representation for the second straight year (Detroit is second with seven prospects), the Kings contingent will be spread across six of the 10 countries playing at the upcoming World Junior Championship.
Below is a brief overview of each Kings prospect headed to this year’s tournament:
BROCK FABER: Defense, USNTDP (2nd round pick in 2020, USHL)
Last Season: 1 goal, 8 assists, plus-10, 8 PIM in 19 games played (USHL)
The fresh-faced Golden Gopher has already notched a goal during his first six collegiate appearances. Further, the young freshman has offered a noticeable presence on the Minnesota blueline and contributed to their undefeated record of 8-0. Meanwhile, the Kings organization should already be pretty familiar with him, as their new AHL coach, John Wroblewski, was able to observe some of his tendencies while he was with the U.S. National Program last season.
He recently joined Kings Of the Podcast to talk about what it would be like to play for Team USA on such a grand stage – listen here.
ARTHUR KALIYEV: Forward, Hamilton Bulldogs (2nd round pick in 2019, OHL)
Last Season: 44 goals, 54 assists, minus-7, 28 PIM in 57 games played (OHL)
Kaliyev returns to the WJC circuit after Team USA had a disappointing tournament last year, failing to medal. Back in the OHL, he had another monster season, where he was eighth overall in primary points-per-game in the CHL. As advertised, this sniper never stopped trying either, as he led the entire CHL in powerplay shots.
On the eve of leaving for camp with Team USA, Kaliyev brought the Arty Party to Kings Of The Podcast – listen here.
ALEX TURCOTTE: Forward, USNTDP (1st round pick in 2019, USHL)
Last Season: 9 goals, 17 assists, minus-10, 20 PIM in 29 games played (NCAA)
Turcotte, along with Kaliyev, endured some disappointment during last year’s WJC when Team USA finished sixth. Last season in Wisconsin, he faced injury and illness, which contributed to a hot and cold freshman year with the Badgers. He has since signed a professional contract with LA, and recently had a chance to get his skating legs back under him training in Germany back in October.
Soon after returning from Berlin, Turcotte joined Kings Of The Podcast for an in-depth interview – listen here.
QUINTON BYFIELD: Forward, Sudbury Wolves (1st round pick in 2020, OHL)
Last Season: 32 goals, 50 assists, plus-26, 44 PIM in 45 games played (OHL)
Team Canada’s youngest roster player returns – and still finds all his teammates as his elders. Byfield’s absence was noticeable while he played in the WJC. Sudbury was 1-7 when the big center was out of the lineup for a few weeks, scoring only 19 goals and allowing 32. He was sixth overall in the CHL in primary points-per-game last year, even though he didn’t turn 18 until August.
Byfield had quite a bit to say during his inaugural visit to Kings Of The Podcast, including about being selected by the Kings and playing with/against several of the organization’s other prospects – listen here.
JORDAN SPENCE: Defense, Moncton Wildcats (4th round pick in 2019, QMJHL)
Last Season: 9 goals, 43 assists, plus-49, 28 PIM in 60 games played (QMJHL)
Spence simply stands out and forces people to recognize him at every level. He’s one of only two skaters on Team Canada who was not a first-round pick, and the other player was selected in the second round. Prior to this season, he earned recognition as the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year for 2019-20 and was honored as the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year. As Team Canada GM Alan Millar said on a recent Kings of the Podcast episode, Spence continues to fly under the radar for most observers — but not for much longer.
TOBIAS BJORNFOT: Defense, Djurgardens (1st round pick in 2019, Sweden)
Last Season: 6 goals, 13 assists, plus-13, 12 PIM in 44 games played (AHL)
Though he spent the majority of his season in the AHL, the Swedish defender made his debut in the NHL first, appearing in three games for LA. He earned bronze for Sweden at the 2019 WJC. While he didn’t wear a letter in that specific tournament, he previously captained the U18 gold medal team and served as alternate on his junior team in the 2018-19 season. He could potentially wear the captain’s C for Sweden this time around.
KASPER SIMONTAIVAL: Forward, Tappara (3rd round pick in 2020, Finland)
Last Season: 25 goals, 32 assists, plus-11, 28 PIM in 48 games played (Finland)
A stocky winger snatched up by the Kings in the third round a few months ago, he’s been up and down the ranks in his more country thus far this season. Half of his time has been in the top league, Liiga, while also playing games in Mestis (Finland’s minor league equivalent). He has yet to score a goal at the highest level so far, yet he had played himself back in Liiga before joining Finland’s WJC camp. In the 2018-19 season, Simontaival’s seven points in four Hlinka Gretzky Tournament games put him in the ranks of first round picks Lucas Raymond and Kirby Dach.
MARTIN CHROMIAK: Forward, Kingston Frontenacs (5th round pick in 2020, OHL)
Last Season: 11 goals, 22 assists, plus-0, 2 PIM in 28 games played (OHL)
The Slovakian sniper had a roller coaster ride of a 2019-20 season. He started the year in Slovakia’s top league, recording six points (5 G, 1 A) in 32 games. As production and playing time went down, he migrated across the pond to finish the season in the OHL – posting 33 points (11G, 22A) in just 28 games. He was shockingly left off Slovakia’s WJC roster last year. Now, Chromiak is in contention for top line responsibilities.
LUKAS PARIK: Goalie, HC Benatky nad Jizerou (3rd round pick in 2019, Czech Republic)
Last Season: 22-7-2, 2.73 GAA, .917 SV%, 1 SO (WHL)
Parik had a very good rookie season in the WHL, which was unfortunately cut short due to the COVID season. While helping backstop the Spokane Chiefs to the playoffs, he set WHL history to be the first goaltender ever to score a goal and record a shutout in the same game. He’ll look to bounce back from the adversity he faced during last year’s event, where the Czech team lost both their starter and Parik due to injury.
Each team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games, beginning next Sunday (and set to be televised by the NHL Network). On December 25, the WJC will kick off with a slew of games, including Team USA vs. Russia.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com