Future Los Angeles Kings Make World Championship Team

Stuart ColesContributor IDecember 15, 2008

Hockey Canada today announced their roster for the Under-20 World Junior Championship, following the final cut of 16 players, taking the roster down to the required 22. The full roster can be seen here.

Once again, the Los Angeles Kings will be represented at this level, with some young prospects featured on the Canadian side. Last year, the Kings had four prospects on the side, not a bad feat considering there are only 22 players on the squad.

Jonathan Bernier (NM), Drew Doughty (D), Thomas Hickey (D), and Wayne Simmonds (F) were gold medal winners in Pardubice, Czech Republic. Doughty in particular was a hit at the tournament, voted as the best defenseman and making the tournament's all star team. In hindsight, this comes as no surprise given his stellar play in the NHL.

Hickey returns to the squad this year as the championships are set to be in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Also making the final roster this year is Colten Teubert (D), the Kings' second pick in the first round of the 2008 Entry Draft 

It wasn't only Canadians that were involved in the World Juniors last year. Viatcheslav Voynov was representing Russia and Oscar Moller was on the Swedish side. Moller has since (and somewhat unexpectedly) made the jump to the NHL club, whereas Voynov is spending his first year in North American hockey in Manchester with the Monarchs.

Los Angeles is investing in the future as part of their transition from cellar-dwellers to cup-contenders. You can already see this on the ice as part of the NHL roster, with the average age of the side only a little over 24. The movement towards youth is exemplified in the selection of Dustin Brown as captain (age 24) and Anze Kopitar (21) and Matt Greene (25) as alternates.

This investment will only work if the players are scouted, drafted, and developed properly. In Drew Doughty, the Kings clearly were lucky to draft a player who was NHL ready. Other players, such as Teubert, Voynov, and Hickey, have to be brought through carefully.

Teams are beginning to understand that in the salary cap era, you need to develop your own players rather than trade and go through free agency. It's more cost-effective for an organisation to develop their own defensemen than it is to sign in free-agency. Hence the draft selections of Doughty, Hickey, Voynov, and Teubert all in the top two rounds of picks over the last two seasons.

It looks like the Kings may have actually got the jump over some of their competitors on this. Their youth movement is clearly very strong and hopefully will bring many awards and silverware to the Staples Center in years to come.