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Off-Day Watch 12/21: World Juniors pre-tournament games begin, Los Angeles Kings Rasmus Kupar makes immediate impact

Pre-tournament action is already under way as teams begin their warmups for the 2019 World Junior Championship.

In Kings prospect action, forward Johan Sodergran scored a shorthanded goal for Team Sweden against Russia earlier this week.

Rasmus Kupari scored a goal and an assist in Finland’s 7-0 win over Denmark. He’s playing with Florida Panthers prospect Aleksi Heponiemi, also his teammate on Kärpät back in Finland. One of Kupari’s major attributes is his speed, and he shows it off here in this “bonus” goal. (In the pre-tournament game, the teams played overtime and went to a shootout just for the practice at it.)

The rest of the Kings prospects (Mikey Anderson, Team USA; Markus Phillips and Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Team Canada) haven’t gotten on the scoresheet yet, but the Team USA game did give us a glimpse at someone Kings fans are sure to have their eyes on: Jack Hughes.

Hughes scored the game-winner for Team USA over Russia with just 28.3 seconds left in regulation. The international spotlight hasn’t done anything to slow Hughes down and he’s already showing himself off as a somewhat high-risk, high-reward player. He’ll make dangerous, creative plays that sometimes end up with in the back of his own net, but will reward you in the end with plenty of goals of his own.

With the chances of the Kings getting a very high draft pick increasing by the day, World Juniors this year will be a good chance to keep an eye not only on the players already in the Kings system, but on some names we’d like to hear Rob Blake call at the draft this summer.

We’ll be following along with with year’s tournament and will bring you updates on Kings prospects (and some guys we’d like to see in a Kings jersey real soon) as the games go on.

Kings Things

Justin Williams may have left Los Angeles, but he’ll never forget his time there. [Kings Insider]

With Daniel Brickley and Sean Walker spending time with the Kings, rookie defensemen Austin Strand and Chaz Reddekopp have a chance to get a bigger role on the Ontario Reign. [Reign Insider]

The Kings have acquired the Pickwick Ice Facility in Burbank and will do a renovation over the summer. [Los Angeles Kings]

Start your morning off with some science:

I’d be okay with it if this team just gave me goofy Kempe/Toffoli content all season long, really.

Elsewhere

The Golden Knights need to be less cagey about discussing player injuries. [Las Vegas Review Journal]

Canadiens rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi is seeing his role increase on the team. [Eyes on the Prize]

A breakdown of the final results from this year’s NWHL draft. [The Ice Garden]

These kids weren’t even alive when the Spice Girls broke up:

Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov put their friendship to the test and interview each other. [The Athletic]

A look at Team Sweden’s roster for World Juniors. [Eyes on the Prize]

Goalies are gear nerds even as kids, and their memories of past Christmas presents proves it. [NHL]

Luke Schenn’s gone from former top prospect to stuck in the AHL. What changed? [The Athletic]

On the grassroots effort that started the ball rolling to get the NHL to Seattle. [NHL]

Seth Jones, art connoisseur:

Blackhawks prospect goaltender (and Rancho Cucamonga native) Collin Delia might be pressed into action in the NHL whether he’s ready or not. (He’s ready.) [The Athletic]

The Dallas Stars need help in their lineup. Should they make the biggest move possible? [Defending Big D]

More Quality Justin Williams Content

Evening Entertainment

The Buffalo Sabres have cooled off from their epic winning streak earlier this season (they’re 3-4-3 in their last 10). The Washington Capitals, largely on the back of spectacular play from Alex Ovechkin, have surged to the top of the Metropolitan Division (7-3-0 in their last 10). The teams meet tonight on NBCSN, starting at 4:00 PM Pacific.

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