Subway Super Series, you could say the Kings went a perfect 5-0 with their top junior prospects (sorry Robbie Czarnik fans).
For those unfamiliar with the format, over the past seven years Russia has sent over an All-Star team to play two games each against similar teams from the three junior leagues that make up the CHL. Outside of the World Junior Championships, this has become the premier junior hockey tournament of the year.
Nearly every major (young) star in the NHL with a Canadian junior hockey background has previously participated - from Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Steven Stamkos upfront to Dion Phaneuf and Brent Seabrook on the blueline.
To further illustrate the talent that's been included over the years, almost every player Dean Lombardi (as GM of the Kings) has selected from the CHL in the first three rounds of the NHL Draft either already have played or are about to play in the tournament. That list includes names like Drew Doughty, Brayden Schenn, Jonathan Bernier, Wayne Simmonds and Thomas Hickey.
This year, the five Kings draft picks selected to play are:
Jordan Weal - Regina Weal / WHL (2010 third round pick)
Linden Vey - Medicine Hat Tigers / WHL (2009 fourth round)
Tyler Toffoli - Ottawa 67’s / OHL (2010 second round)
Jean-Francois Bérubé - Montreal Juniors / QMJHL (2009 fourth round)
Nicolas Deslauriers - Gatineau Olympiques / QMJHL (2009 third round)
These type of selections must be gratifying for Lombardi and his scouts. They've developed a reputation as a group that does their homework. And the long nights of studying obviously continue to pay off.
Other Super Series roster notes:
* Vey, Toffoli and Deslauriers also played in the 2009 Series.
* Of the five Kings prospects, all but Weal were also invited to Team Canada's recent evaluation camp for this winter's World Junior Championships. Given Weal's point totals in the WHL last year (35 goals, 102 points), his exclusion had to somewhat be considered a slap in the face.
* Last year Schenn had an assist in the first of the two games between the WHL and the Russians. Then, the very next night he made his NHL debut (on a one-day contract) for the Kings in Vancouver.
* The Kings sixth round pick from the 2010 draft, Maxim Kitsyn, participated last year for Team Russia.
* Kyle Clifford was scheduled to play for the OHL last year. However, an injury prevented him from participating.
* Besides dozens of players taken by NHL teams at the last two drafts, many of the top prospects eligible for the 2011 NHL Draft will be participating as well - including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer / WHL), Ty Rattie (Portland / WHL) and Scott Harrington (London Knights / OHL).
* Full rosters are available at the following links: WHL roster - OHL roster - QMJHL roster
2010 Super Series Schedule:
Game 1 – Monday November 8 at Saint John, NB (QMJHL)
Game 2 – Wednesday November 10 at Drummondville, QC (QMJHL)
Game 3 – Thursday November 11 at London, ON (OHL)
Game 4 – Monday November 15 at Sudbury, ON (OHL)
Game 5 – Wednesday November 17 at Kamloops, BC (WHL)
Game 6 – Thursday November 18 at Prince George, BC (WHL)
Highlights from the 2009 six-game series included Colten Teubert captaining one of the teams; plus, Schenn, Vey and Brandon Kozun all earning points. Tyler Toffoli had two goals in two games. And goaltending prospect Martin Jones picked up a win in net. A full series summary is available here.
[UPDATE: The roster for Team Russia has been released and includes Maxim Kitsyn - a left winger selected by the Kings in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Draft]
2009 Subway Super Series Recap - notes on all the Kings prospects and their performance
Interview with Kyle Clifford
Interview with Thomas Hickey
Interview with Colten Teubert
Interview with Jordan Weal
Interview with Brandon Kozun
Interview with JF Berube
Interview with Nic Deslauriers