OTTAWA - Oscar Moller had to do a double take.
Moller was strolling through the lobby of the hotel that Sweden calls home at the World Junior Hockey Championship when he saw Thomas Hickey and Colten Teubert walk into the main foyer.
"I stopped them and said hello," the Los Angeles Kings forward said about seeing two of the top junior-aged prospects in the Kings organization. "We joked around, talked about the tournament and the Kings and had a few laughs."
Hickey was the Kings' first pick, fourth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft and Moller went in the second round, 52nd overall. Teubert was the 13th overall pick in 2008.
Moller had a respectable six goals and 19 points in 28 games and averaged 13 minutes and 46 seconds of ice time per game when the Kings loaned him to the Swedish National Junior team for the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Hickey and Teubert, both defensemen, play for Canada at the world junior tournament, while Moller is a key forward for Sweden. The trio represent a big part of the Kings future and they have been major contributors for their respective teams at the pressure-packed world junior tournament.
Canada is the four-time defending world junior champion and Sweden lost in overtime a year ago. Both are top contenders at the 2009 championship.
"I know both Hickey and Colten are focused guys and their main goal is to win the gold medal but that it our focus too," said Moller.
It says a lot about a team's scouting department when it has three key players on the top contenders like the Kings have in Teubert, Hickey and Moller. The Kings also have Russian prospect Vycheslav Voinov, who was drafted last year, competing in the event.
Moller knows what the Kings have in young talent on the NHL roster and he's seen who else is in the system and he is impressed.
"I think they have done a real good job in their scouting. They have been drafting a lot of good players, guys with potential and guys not just for the short run but for the long run, too," he said.
Hickey has also kept a keen eye on the present and the future of the Kings and likes what he sees.
"You look at our team (i.e. Canada) and you look at the tournament and there are a few players here," said Hickey, who like Moller is the captain of his team. "There is Voinov and Moller, along with me and 'Teubie' here. That speaks volumes about the pipeline they are building."
Hickey has been paired with Teubert and they are Canada's top defensive duo.
"Me and Hicks are good defensive partners and we play well together and it is just a good future for the L.A. Kings," said Teubert. " It is fun to be part of this with a guy you know and a guy you have been to an NHL camp with and a guy who will be my teammate soon, I hope."
"He carries me as much as I carry him and he is a great leader on our team. And he is a great player."
Canada head coach Pat Quinn sees nothing but sunny skies ahead for Hickey and Teubert. "They are two good young kids and as they grow and learn, they look like they are on their way to be players," he said.
Moller was added to the Swedish roster to provide leadership.
"I see him as a little warrior," said head coach Par Marts. "I hope his attitude is that it is possible guys. I am playing in the NHL and playing against the best. I know it is possible (to play with the best). And that is what I want from him."
Moller knows what is expected of him on and off the ice and he is up for the challenge.
"My role on this team is to be one of the leaders and show the other guys that you should never give up," he says. "I will try to push them to the next level so we can win this tournament.
"We need to have some key players step up leadership-wise and we have a good leadership group. We have to be a good example for the young guys so they make the right decision."
As for living in Los Angeles and playing for the Kings, Moller admits that every now and then he has to pinch himself to make sure he is not dreaming.
"There are a lot of things outside of hockey that can take your focus away so you have to make sure you stick with the hockey there. But that is not a problem for me. I know what I am doing there and I want to be a hockey player.
"Some days I pinch myself, 'Wow. I made the NHL.' That is my dream come true."
And Hickey and Teubert hope to live that dream, too.
By Alan Adams | Special to LAKings.com