From Akil Thomas and Alex Turcotte’s golden goals to Lukas Parik’s surprising shutout, the Los Angeles Kings‘ prospects have had their share of shining moments at the WJC in recent years. Based on their play early on in this year’s tournament, it appears as if this trend will continue. Kings fans can witness some of their elite prospect pool in action. Here is a look at the Kings’ prospects’ impacts on their respective teams so far.
Finland’s Simontaival and Helenius Shine Against Germany and Austria
In the tournament opener, defending bronze medalist, Finland beat Germany by a final score of 3-1. Despite being the heavy favorites, Finland had to fight to beat the Germans, and the two Kings’ prospects were heavily involved in this effort. In fact, a Kings prospect was on the ice for each of Finland’s three goals. On day two against Austria, the Kings’ prospects put up a total of three points in a 7-1 rout.
Kasper Simontaival slotted in on the team’s top line and, although he finished the first game without any shots on goal, his 16:51 time on ice was impressive. He played with a level of tenacity that was unmatched by any of his teammates. He looked comfortable and confident on the ice, which, given that he was extremely productive on last year’s team posting four goals and seven points in seven games, makes perfect sense. By day two, he was ready to show off some of his offensive talents by scoring a goal. He will certainly be a player to watch as the tournament progresses.
One of the most exciting storylines of day one was the dominance of Samuel Helenius. The 6-foot-6 forward already matched his goal total from last year by scoring two, all while playing on Finland’s third line. Like Simontaival, he is a returning player who immediately looked like he belonged on the ice.
He continued his brilliant play on day two by adding another goal and an assist against Austria. Known for a two-way game that involves physicality, he will likely be an asset for Finland in what is known to be a very offensive-minded tournament.
Sweden’s Grans Picks Up a Multi-Point Game
After a strong start with the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate, Helge Grans, was loaned to Team Sweden to help his country return to the podium. In his first-ever WJC game, the 19-year-old blueliner showed off his offensive talent by picking up two assists in a 6-3 win over Russia. His defensive game was a bit shaky as he was a minus-2. Nevertheless, in Sweden’s 3-0 victory against Slovakia the following day, he picked up an assist and was a plus-1, already showing improvement.
Russia’s Kirsanov Leads in Time On Ice
Although the Russians got off on a rocky start in their quest to medal in this year’s tournament after finishing fourth last year, there was a bright spot from a Kings’ standpoint. Defensive prospect Kirill Kirsanov played for an astounding 24:08 minutes, topping all players, and, despite Russia’s loss to Sweden, he managed to finish the game with a plus/minus of plus-1. When he was on the ice, he was able to largely hold back Sweden’s offense, an impressive feat. On day two, he continued to play big minutes in Russia’s 4-2 victory over Switzerland, posting a total time on ice of 20:23, which was just behind first on the team. Seeing him take on this amount of ice time, especially in a back-to-back situation, is certainly a positive sign for the Kings.
USA’s Faber Looks to Build Off Solid Start
While in last year’s WJC, Brock Faber worked his way up the lineup with his consistent, steady play en route to the gold medal; this year, he started the tournament on the USA’s top defensive pairing. In the opening game against Slovakia, he continued to show off his ability to shut down the opposition as they attempted to enter the offensive zone. In what was, surprisingly, a close game, he played a total of 18:42 minutes and had a plus/minus of plus-1 in a 3-2 victory. Team USA hopes that his defensive play and leadership abilities will continue to shine as the team works to defend its title as WJC champions.
Slovakia’s Chromiak Dazzles in Opener
So far, Kings prospect Martin Chromiak has been Slovakia’s sole goal scorer, picking up two goals in a comeback attempt against the heavily favored Americans on opening day. While he could not score during the day two game against Sweden, he still managed to amass four shots. Although it does not appear as if Slovakia will become a surprise contender in this tournament, Chromiak, a former fifth round draft pick, is proving that he is a competitive offensively-minded player against some of the best young talent.
Having already topped last year’s goal total, he is looking to build off of his early performance and further establish himself as a prospect who could legitimately crack the NHL.
The WJC is all about seeing the future of the NHL in action. The Kings’ prospects have been among some of the best in the tournament so far. They continue to show the entire hockey community just how dominant the Kings’ prospect pool is. Watching these players throughout the tournament will certainly be interesting as they all strive to bring home a goal medal.
Stats per Mayor’s Manor
As a native Angeleno, Katie Nash is a life-long Kings fan and experienced amateur hockey journalist. She is excited to provide her perspective through covering the Kings for The Hockey Writers.
Follow her on instagram @la.kings.hockey.