Will Quinton Byfield be added to the LA Kings roster once the WJC is over?
Hockey is officially back. LA Kings‘ training camp opens its doors on December 31, and while he’s not expected to leave the WJC early, Quinton Byfield’s 2021 season remains in limbo. Should he return to the OHL, play overseas, or immediately added to the Kings’ roster? A strong argument can be made for all three scenarios.
Under the first umbrella, Byfield may not benefit from another year in Sudbury, and the OHL isn’t expected to begin their season until February 4. However, that’s likely to change now (see below). If Canada wins Gold again at the WJC, there would be about a month before the start of Sudbury’s season, but the early reports indicate that bodychecking will not be permitted in the OHL to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Overseas could present an intriguing opportunity for Byfield. Obviously, he’d be joining a team pretty late into the season, and many rosters could already be full. The Kings’ sent five prospects to continue their development with Eisbaren Berlin in late September. All have since returned to prepare for their respective league’s training camps, but Berlin’s season will run through mid-March. The DEL would provide the opportunity for Byfield to play against grown men.
The last option is for the Kings to add Byfield to the Opening Night roster. The league adjusted the entry-level contract slide for rookies from the normal ten games to seven for the 2021 season. The Kings can play him for a few games, and then he goes elsewhere without starting the clock on his ELC. The issues remain with the two other options, but the Kings are also finally out of salary cap hell.
Of course, several of the younger players will be eligible for contract extensions simultaneously, so general manager Rob Blake will have to be mindful of that when pursuing players from outside the organization.
I recently spoke with Dylan Galloway, Head Scout of Eastern Canada for FCHockey, to gauge his thoughts on what the LA Kings should do with Quinton Byfield.
"“If he’s placed on 4C again (in the WJC) and not played much, that might be pretty frustrating for the kid. It might actually be a good confidence boost for him to go back to the OHL. In a normal world without a pandemic, Q should definitely have gone to Europe in my opinion. DEL, SL, maybe one of the Swedish leagues.”“Play against men for the season and then move to the NHL the following year. Not really knowing the rules around how players will be added to their NHL rosters after the WJC, I still think it’s possible he goes to the Kings post WJC.”"
I suppose this scenario applies to Arthur Kaliyev as well, who would also be impacted if the OHL delays the start to their season. Despite the addition of a taxi squad on NHL rosters, it appears the AHL age limit will hold for the 2021 season, meaning Kaliyev is a year too young from being added to the Ontario Reign’s roster.
As training camp unfolds, the Kings may have to ask themselves if they feel better about a second line of
Kempe – Vilardi – Frk
Kempe – Byfield – Kaliyev