Los Angeles Kings prospects Rasmus Kupari and Tobias Bjornfot were both named to their respective country’s World Junior rosters last week, but seeing as both are under contract and playing in the AHL, the duo had to officially be loaned by the Kings to participate. That permission officially came down today, as L.A. announced that Kupari would play for Finland and Bjornfot would play for Sweden in the upcoming WJC tournament. Bjornfot, a first-round pick back in June, played in three games with the Kings earlier this season and has eight points in 20 games with the Ontario Reign. The athletic defenseman joins an impressive unit on the blue line for Sweden at the WJC. Kupari, L.A.’s top pick two years ago, played for the Gold Medal-winning Finnish entry in last year’s WJC, recording five points in seven games, and overall enjoyed a strong season in his native country. However, his first season in North America has gotten off to a slow start, with just seven points in 24 AHL games for the talented forward. While there was no indication in the Kings’ release, Kupari could be a candidate to remain overseas following the tournament. But first he will join another star-studded Finnish roster in pursuit of a repeat title.
- With the Boston Bruins playing the Washington Capitals tonight in the first of a back-to-back set that includes a match-up with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, Connor Clifton has drawn back into the lineup. The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont reports that John Moore, who just recently made his season debut following off-season shoulder surgery, will be eased back into regular action, according to head coach Bruce Cassidy. Splitting back-to-backs or occasional nights off could become commonplace for the veteran defender. The Bruins are more cognizant than most when it comes to the value of healthy defense, as they struggled with continuous injury issues on the back end last season and are still waiting on the return of Kevan Miller. Cassidy recently stated that the Bruins are a better team with Moore active, even though it causes a surplus of lefties in the lineup, but that could mean he prioritizes keeping Moore healthy long-term rather than playing him in every game and risking re-injury to his damaged shoulder. Fortunately, the team has the luxury of young Clifton, who played well in Moore’s stead to begin the year and is more than deserving of spot starts.
- Before the calendar flipped to December, making him ineligible to play in the NHL this season, it seems the trade market for unsigned Dallas Stars RFA defenseman Julius Honka was not as dead as it seemed. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes that the Carolina Hurricanes were the team with the most interest in the enigmatic rearguard and were in heavy pursuit. However, the team ultimately decided that they were not willing to meet the Stars’ demand of draft picks or young, unsigned prospects rather than a fellow AHL prospect. Ironically, the Hurricanes drafted Honka’s younger brother, Anttoni, in the third round this past year, which could keep them interested in the elder Honka this off-season.