The Los Angeles Kings have a wonderful prospect pool. If you weren’t sure of that, the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship will prove it. The Kings have the most prospects of any NHL team in the popular event with nine. The closest to them are the Arizona Coyotes with seven. Behind them, there are four teams with five players.
What’s impressive about the Kings prospects, other than the quantity of them, is the roles that they have in the event. Nearly every one of them has a large role with their respective national teams and there’s a very good chance that nearly all of them will be leaving the tournament with a medal (Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the USA are all contenders).
With the excitement of the World Juniors underway, Kings fans should be watching closely as their future competes for national glory. To help along, here’s a look at each of the nine Kings’ prospects in the tournament.
Tobias Björnfot, Team Sweden
The Kings’ 2019 first-round pick (22nd overall), Tobias Björnfot, shocked many when he made the Kings roster out of training camp, even though it was just for three games. He even spent time on the top line with Drew Doughty. At just 18-years-old, and coming to a new country, this is very impressive. He’s been playing with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, collecting two goals, seven assists and nine points in 23 games.
Playing for Team Sweden, he’s started the tournament on the third line. The Swedish defensive unit is arguably one of the best in the tournament and his being on the team is a feat in itself. Sweden is a strong contender in this event to win their pool and medal in the tournament. Make sure to catch a Swedish game to see this future star in action.
Aidan Dudas, Team Canada
A fourth-round pick in 2018 (113th overall), Aidan Dudas has developed into a promising forward. Playing in the OHL for the Owen Sound Attack, Dudas is the captain and has been racking up the points with 11 goals, 19 assists for 30 points in 23 games.
As always, the Canadian team is talent-heavy and deep. For any prospect to make the Canadian team is a big deal. The Kings have to be happy with ho their fourth-round pick has been coming along, cracking this lineup and playing on the third line (to start the tournament). The organization has to be hoping he continues to progress as he has been.
Samuel Fagemo, Team Sweden
The 2019 50th-overall pick, Samuel Fagemo, has become one of the Kings’ top prospects. Playing with Frölunda HC in the SHL, he’s scored six goals, five assists and 11 points through 20 games. He’s also added seven goals, three assists and 10 points in 8 Champions Hockey League games. There have been times where he’s absolutely dominant on the ice.
With Team Sweden, Fagemo is a catalyst for the team’s offense. He’s playing on the top line, and the Swedes hope that he will bring his offensive flair to their lineup. In the opening game of the tournament, he did just that, collecting a goal and an assist – the goal tying the game and sending it to overtime where Sweden won.
Arthur Kaliyev, Team USA
There’s a good chance that Arthur Kaliyev will embarrass every team in the NHL – because they let him slide to 33rd overall in the 2019 draft. He’s already started that by his play in the OHL. With the Hamilton Bulldogs, the sniper has 31 goals, 31 assists and 62 points in just 30 games to lead the entire league.
Team USA had a questionable lineup for their first game against Canada at the World Juniors, putting Kaliyev, one of their most offensive players, as the 13th forward. He didn’t let that hold him back though, picking up a goal in the 6-4 loss. Expect him to move up the lineup as the tournament progresses.
Rasmus Kupari, Team Finland
2018 first-round pick (20th overall) Rasmus Kupari was named to the Finnish team and came into the tournament for the first game on the top line. Unfortunately, the young Finn was injured in that opening game and his status is questionable for the tournament.
Kupari is another prospect that is looking great for the Kings. The alternate captain of the Finnish team made the jump to North America this season, playing for the Ontario Reign. The rookie has six goals, two assists, and eight points in 23 games so far. The Finns hope they get Kupari back, but for now, that is questionable at best.
Kim Nousiainen, Team Finland
The lowest pick of the Kings to play in this year’s World Juniors, the 2019 fourth-round pick (119th overall), Kim Nousiainen is now playing on Finland’s top line. He’s paired with Ottawa Senators’ prospect Lassi Thomson, providing the defensive play to Thomson’s offense.
Nousiainen is playing in his first full season in the Liiga for KalPa, collecting two goals, five assists, and seven points in 30 games. He’s not the most offensive defender, but he’s solid in his own end and the Kings have to be looking forward to him shutting down opponents for them.
Lukas Parik, Team Czech Republic
Goaltender Lukas Parik, the 2019 third-round pick (87th overall), is the one Kings’ prospect who likely won’t be put into a prominent position in the World Juniors. Parik is backing up Anaheim Ducks’ prospect Lukas Dostal, and likely won’t see much time playing barring an injury.
The goaltender is playing for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, where he’s played 13 games with a 2.59 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. He’s been playing behind Campbell Arnold, who has played 21 games. It’s important to remember that Parik was just drafted in 2019 and goaltenders take time. But, him making this roster is still a great sign for the Kings’ prospect.
Akil Thomas, Team Canada
Looking back to Team Canada, 2018 second-round pick (51st overall) Akil Thomas is another player looking great for the Kings. The captain of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs is coming off of a 102-point season, and currently has 15 goals, 29 assists, and 44 points in 27 games.
Thomas picked up an assist in the Canadians first game, playing on the fourth line with Connor McMichael and Raphael Lavoie. With the talent that Canada has, he likely won’t work his way up the lineup, but you should expect him to keep producing throughout the tournament.
Alex Turcotte, Team USA
Last but certainly not least, Alex Turcotte, the 2019 fifth-overall pick is the Kings’ top prospect right now. The likely heir to Anze Kopitar’s role, Turcotte is one of the highest-selected players in this tournament. Turcotte started the tournament on the third line – I would expect him to finish the tournament higher than that.
The NCAA rookie plays for the stacked University of Wisconsin, where he’s racked up six goals, nine assists and 15 points in 16 games. The King’s most promising prospect is one of the best players not in the NHL, having an extremely solid all-around game. He’s a great playmaker with incredible vision. As the tournament goes on, expect to see all of that on display.