LA Kings: Rob Blake sheds light on plans for Byfield, Turcotte, and Kaliyev

LA Kings (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

LA Kings general manager Rob Blake discussed plans for Quinton Byfield and some of the other key prospects as the team opens training camp.

Training camp is finally here for the seven teams that failed to qualify for the 19-20 postseason. The LA Kings finished with 64 points but won their final seven games, largely led by new faces expected to see regular playing time in the 2021 season.

On Wednesday, the organization released the entire training camp roster.

A couple of quick notes here:

General Manager Rob Blake held a Zoom call for approximately 30 minutes with NHL media on Wednesday afternoon. While he touched on a couple of initial roster items, Alex Iafallo‘s contract status (no movement yet but to be explored as the season gets going), and COVID protocols, the meat of the conversation revolved around the plans for some of the big-name prospects.

On where Byfield and Kaliyev can be assigned with the OHL’s start date in limbo

The understanding we have right now, especially with the leagues that haven’t started…most likely we can bring them. And whether the American League is participating in training camp by then, we have the availability of that or the taxi squad until the OHL, CHL, WHL, or whatever league formally announces their return to play.

There are ongoing conversations with the American League on proposed schedules, start dates, and that. It hasn’t been entirely explained to us when training camp could start for the American League. I think it will coincide with them returning from the World Juniors, whatever protocols it is to get back into our facility here, and then whether it’s American League or taxi squad, we’ll figure that out.

On what defines success or progress in terms of the development of these young players

We had our meeting today, our introduction meeting with the players in training camp, and Todd (McLellan) spoke. And he spoke about a foundation and a process that was fully engraved as the season went on, and now it’s time to reinforce that and build on it. We’re waiting on the American League to get the final schedule to see what kind of game schedule, a training camp schedule, so we know these players will be in a position where they can continue to develop.

We’ve been fortunate to operate in Phase 2 of NHL protocol for a number of weeks, months leading up to this. Our development staff has been hard at work, already continuing the development of these young players. And just watching the bodies mature in this time, it’ll be nice to get them on the ice and see where they’re at.

On whether there has been any in-depth discussion with the AHL to allow Byfield an age exemption waiver or would they be better served on the taxi squad

Obviously, the league will direct what will happen if, for some reason, the CHL did not continue this year where you could place those junior-age players. We’re kind of waiting and seeing with the idea that we’ll be bringing them in here for at least a few weeks to get a little bit of a “camp feel” and be around the NHL players.

On whether the LA Kings will not burn a year off entry-level contracts of guys like Turcotte, Byfield, and Kaliyev because of the seven-game limit.

That’s conscious every year. At the end of the day, for us, though, we want to make sure when the players come up — and listen, we’re talking about really young players — they have to be 100 percent ready to step in and help your team win. So the process before that leading up to it, that all comes into play, and we’ll take it as we go.

We’ll get a look at some of these guys early; we hope so. We have situations where we can carry them and maybe get a game here and there. But again, they have to be 100 percent ready, and we have to be confident that by playing them the whole year, it’s gonna help them develop.