LA Kings: Observations from the World Junior Warm-Up Games

LA Kings (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

Here are some quick observations on how the LA Kings prospects performed during the 2021 World Junior Championships warm-up games.

Alex Turcotte

Alex Turcotte, centering the first line with fellow LA Kings‘ prospect Arthur Kaliyev on the left side and Anaheim Ducks’ prospect Trevor Zegras playing right wing, provided every reason why they could be one of the best lines in the tournament. However, Turcotte’s ability to play a full 200-foot game will be a key factor for this line to be successful.

At one point in the exhibition game against Finland, Turcotte was battling behind the offensive zone net, creating scoring chances. Then, on the same shift, he was seen battling behind his own net, preventing chances from being created. Turcotte had some scoring chances of his own, with one opportunity coming off a slight breakaway, hitting the crossbar on a nice back-hand move coming in from the left side.

Arthur Kaliyev

Arthur Kaliyev has the best shot in the tournament, and it might not even be close. He showed his goal-scoring ability, netting an equalizing goal off a wrist shot from the slot against Team Finland in the USA’s first and only tune-up game of the World Juniors. There were some questions, though, on how Kaliyev was used on the power play.

While I agree with most that Kaliyev would benefit more from being on the right side to better utilize his outstanding one-timer. The only counter-argument to that point is Kaliyev’s ability to hit cross-body one-timers.

He has the skill to create enough leverage and patience to let the puck get in the right position to get a good shot from the left side as well. It would not surprise me to see Kaliyev lead the tournament in goals much like fellow LA Kings prospect Samuel Fagemo did last year for Team Sweden.

Brock Faber

Brock Faber, quietly, had a great defensive game against Finland, and Head Coach Nate Leaman noticed.

Faber showed great defensive awareness and speed coming back from his own blue line to break up a potential 2-on-1. Look for Faber to bring some more of those defensive instincts playing on the third pair of that stacked United States blue line.

Quinton Byfield

Any worries LA Kings fans may have had from the rough start for Quinton Byfield during Team Canada’s training camp have gone out the window. Bulldozer! I kept thinking to myself as I watched the 6-foot-4 center manhandle his opponents. He was very noticeable throughout the game, finishing checks, moving his opponents at will, and drawing penalties.

I thought TSN Sports commentator, and former LA King, Ray Ferraro made a good point about Byfield’s “rough start” to camp. He stated when you put on an additional 10-15 pounds of muscle like Byfield did this offseason, players have to learn to skate with that additional weight — makes a lot of sense for a highly skilled player such as Byfield. Now with the loss of Kirby Dach for the rest of the tournament, expect Byfield, who started as the fourth-line center, to be asked to bring more offense to the table.

Jordan Spence

Jordan Spence must be giving Team Canada Head Coach André Tourigny something to think about. Canada dressed eight defensemen in it’s warm-up against Team Russia. Spence, playing on the fourth pair as the eighth defenseman, showed why he has great offensive awareness.

His ability to anticipate the play and jump in when needed created plenty of scoring opportunities for Canada. I would like to see Spence on the second power-play unit to show off some of that offensive prowess that earned him QMJHL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 19-20.

Kasper Simontaival

I didn’t notice much from LA Kings’ fourth-rounder Kasper Simontaival during Team Finland’s game against the US. But, besides the power play, much of Team Finland, aside from Florida Panthers prospect Anton Lundell, was pretty quiet against a tough US team.

As they were dominated in 5v5 play, look for Simontaival and the rest of Finland to bring some more offense in the rest of the tournament.