The LA Kings will loan defenseman Tobias Bjornfot to the Swedish national junior team and forward Rasmus Kupari to the Finnish national junior team for the 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, according to Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake.
Both players are currently on the roster for the Ontario Reign (AHL) and will be reassigned to their national clubs on December 16.
The tournament features the world's best men's players under 20 years of age and will take place in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26, 2019 through Jan. 5, 2020. Bjornfot and Kupari are two of nine Kings prospects named to preliminary rosters for this year's tournament.
Bjornfot, 18, is currently in his first season of professional hockey in North America after being selected by the Kings in the first-round, 22nd overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.
The 6-0, 200-pound defenseman made his NHL debut earlier this season, appearing in three games with the Kings before he was assigned to Ontario (AHL). Through 20 games with the Reign, Bjornfot has posted eight points (2-6=8), a plus-5 rating and eight penalty minutes.
The Upplands Valley, Sweden native will be representing his nation in IIHF play for the third straight year. A year ago, he captained Sweden's under-18 men's national team on home ice to the nation's first-ever gold medal at the IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship.
In 2018, he was also part of the Sweden contingent that won a bronze medal at the same event.
Video: Getting to know a little more about Tobias Bjornfot
Kupari, a 19-year-old native of Kotka, Finland, was selected in the first-round, 20th overall, of the 2018 NHL Draft and is playing in his first professional season in North America with Ontario. He has posted seven points (5-2=7) and nine penalty minutes in 24 games this season with the Reign.
Video: Get to know a little more about Rasmus Kupari
Internationally, the 6-1, 185-pound forward has represented Finland on multiple occasions, including twice at the IIHF World Junior Championship (2018, 2019 - gold) and twice at the IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship (2017 - silver, 2018 - gold).
Last year, he tallied five points (1-4=5) in seven games to help Finland capture the gold medal at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver. During his two stints with Finland's under-18 men's national team, he won both a gold medal (2018) and silver medal (2017) while collecting six points (2-4=6) in 11 appearances.
With Bjornfot and Kupari joining their respective federations, the Kings will have nine players on preliminary rosters ahead of this year's tournament.
Should all nine players make their respective teams, only the Philadelphia Flyers have had as many prospects compete in this tournament over the last five years, when they did so in 2017.
The following players would compete for their respective teams:
- Team Canada
- Aidan Dudas, F (2018, 4th round, 113th overall)
- Akil Thomas, F (2018, 2nd round, 51st overall)
- Czech Republic
- Lukas Parik, G (2019, 3rd round, 87th overall)
- Rasmus Kupari, F (2018, 1st round, 20th overall)
- Kim Nousiainen, D (2019, 4th round, 119th overall)
- Tobias Bjornfot, D (2019, 1st round, 22nd overall)
- Samuel Fagemo, F (2019, 2nd round, 50th overall)
- Alex Turcotte, F (2019, 1st round, 5th overall)
- Arthur Kaliyev, F (2019, 2nd round, 33rd overall)