Kings defensive prospects Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert have been invited to attend Canada’s National Junior Team selection camp from December 11-14, vying to make the 22-man roster that will compete for Canada's fifth-straight gold medal at the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships, set to start Dec. 26.
The St. Louis Blues have the most drafted players invited to Canada’s 2008 selection camp, with three, while the Kings are one of six NHL teams - Buffalo, Columbus, Edmonton, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay - with two prospects at camp.
And of the seven teams with multiple prospects at camp, only the Kings and Islanders have two defensive prospects invited to the camp, and all indications are that both Hickey and Teubert have a good chance to make the 22-man roster.
Hickey, who plays for the Seattle Thunderbirds, is one of seven players invited to camp that are currently captains of their junior teams and one of just four players returning from the 2008 Gold Medal winning Canada National Junior Team.
Kings President/GM Dean Lombardi sees a role of leadership for Hickey on this team, which could be a big step in his development.
“Hicks has a chance at captain, or at least be one of the captains, and that’s a huge responsibility,” Lombardi said from his office at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. “I know what they think of him up there, of his character. It is going be a heck of a challenge for him.”
Kings Coordinator of Player Development and Systems Integration Nelson Emerson added: “The fact that he has been there before, he needs to put it on himself to be a real leader. He needs to have a good camp next week and he needs to show them that he is ready for the task, ready to stand up and lead the team in this tournament.”
Hickey won the Gold Medal with Team Canada at the IIHF World Juniors last season.
This season, Hickey, the Kings first round pick, fourth overall in 2007, has posted 6-9=15 and is a +13 in 22 games for Seattle of the WHL. Last season, his third in Seattle, Hickey finished with 45 points (11-34=45), 10th amongst WHL defenseman, in 63 regular season games.
In addition, Hickey was named a WHL First-Team All-Star and was a member of Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championships held in the Czech Republic, scoring 0-1=1 with four penalty minutes and had a plus-4 rating in seven games.
Though at a different stage in his development, Teubert also has some experience playing for national teams. He was Alternate captain of Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Under-18 Championships, where he recorded one point (0-1=1), 30 penalty minutes and was a plus-8 rating in seven games, helping Team Canada win the gold medal. In addition, Teubert represented Canada at the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August 2007.
“Colten is at a different stage, he played in the Under 17 last year, so it will be a challenge for him,” Lombardi said. “One of things he brings, one of the reasons why we drafted him, is his leadership and physical play. I want to see a mix - we are not only looking for the best players but the best fit. He brings some things that are very unique.
“We are very proud of him.”
Teubert, Los Angeles' 1st round choice, 13th overall, in 2008 , has posted 8-12=20 with 68 IM and a +15 rating with the Regina Pats this year. He has already bettered his seven goals from last season and is just three points shy of his career-high scoring mark of 7-16=23 of a year ago.
Teubert has already set a career high with eight goals. He is three points shy of tying his career high of 23 (7-16=23) from a year ago.
One thing that really got the Kings attention was his 135 penalty minutes last season.
“We like him because of his physical presence and that’s what is going to help him with Team Canada in this evaluation process. Hopefully he is going to be mean and tough and that’s how we like him to play,” Emerson said. “He has played 30 games already and he is having a good season, probably a better season offensively than he is used to.
“His whole game is starting to come together and come around.”
Pat Quinn, head coach of Canada’s 2009 National Junior Team and a former Kings head coach, had this to say about the 6-4 Teubert: “With Teubert, I first had him overseas [under 18 team at the World Championship in Russia], and I thought he was very much an overanxious player, trying to get hits every time he was on the ice. He would chase himself out of position. But as the tournament went on he became more and more dependable.
“He put some raps on his game as far as going to areas where it was not a good place to go and he still made some really physical contact. He was always a presence out there in that the opposition knew where he was all the time. I like how he skates, holds the puck and he showed some real leadership for us on that team. So he is a good candidate for our club as well.”
Both Hickey and Teubert have an opportunity to make the team, further proof of the organization’s depth on the blueline.
“The thing I said 24 months ago was reserve list. We built a reserve list of young defenseman and I look at the kids here now, Kyle Quincey (23), Drew Doughty (18), Jack Johnson (21), Matt Greene (25) and Peter Harrold (25), all 25 and under and are here now.
“We are the youngest team on the blueline in the minors now (Andrew Campbell 20, Davis Drewiske 24, Josh Kidd 20, Alec Martinez 21, Joe Piskula 24, Viatcheslav Voynov 18), with an 18-year old playing (Voynov) and a couple of 20-year olds playing (Campbell, Kidd). Then you go to the Juniors and we have two of the top young defensemen in Canada. We just can’t have enough.