For Byfield and Kaliyev, the LA Kings should say no to the OHL

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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LA Kings Arthur Kaliyev
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

Playing lesser competition will not help their development.

This is not a knock against the Ontario Hockey League, or the Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, for that matter. It boils down to whether they are going to get better by playing against lesser competition than what they have already been playing against in the AHL? The answer, simply put, is no.

Anyone watching Ontario Regin hockey this season would certainly say the team’s first thirteen games were not very good – in fact, they were terrible. The Reign’s record for those first thirteen games was 1-10-2, and the teams struggles certainly affected both Byfield’s and Kaliyev’s numbers: here are their stat lines for those thirteen games:

  • Byfield: 1 goal, 6 assists, 24 shots on goal, -15
  • Kaliyev: 1 goal, 5 assists, 36 shots on goal, -2

These numbers certainly do not warrant a promotion to Los Angeles (although Kalyiev did get a one-game cup of coffee), as a matter of fact, if the decision had to be made at that point, Byfield and Kaliyev would have most likely been going back to the OHL. The switch has flipped, however, and the Reign have been lights out, winning five out of their last six games. As a result, Byfield’s and Kaliyev’s stat lines have dramatically improved as well.

  • Byfield: 4 goals, 2 assists, 9 shots on goal, 0 +/-
  • Kaliyev: 6 goals, 2 assists, 14 shots on goal, +3

Now that’s more like it! After looking lost on the ice at times during those first thirteen games, it appears both Byfield and Kaliyev are starting to acclimate to the American Hockey League in a big way. Keep in mind. This is considered to be the second or third best league in the world (depends on who you ask). To send these two down to a league now with 16, 17, and 18-year-olds playing in it does absolutely nothing for their development – it could actually hinder it.

Simply put, they will absolutely dominate the competition, and without being challenged, there is a great risk of complacency, which could very well create bad habits. To become better players, Byfield and Kaliyev (or any other player for that matter) need to play against the best competition available to them. Since spring is almost here, I’ll use a baseball comparison – think of it as sending a varsity high school pitcher back to Little League to “work on his stuff.”

An overall +/- of -15 for Quinton Byfield could be a concern, even though that number came from a time when his team was playing terribly. If he needs to work on his defensive game, there is a certain defensive-minded, MVP caliber center in Los Angeles that could help him out with that.