Expect Quinton Byfield to make his LA Kings debut later this week

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

A new era of LA Kings hockey will soon begin, as Quinton Byfield is likely to make his debut later this week.

Quinton Byfield was recalled to the LA Kings taxi squad on Monday, but don’t look for him to make his NHL debut until later this week.

“It’s one of the reasons he’s here,” Todd McLellan noted following Monday morning’s skate. “He had a real good run in the American League. He’s up here on the taxi squad. It’ll give him a chance to be around our team, coaching staff, and particularly Anze [Kopitar] throughout the week. As time goes on, we’ll see where he fits in.”

Byfield, 18, has been with the AHL’s Ontario Reign this season, with the OHL season on hold and has since been canceled. The Newmarket, Ontario native got off to a slow start but had a strong finish, tallying a combined eight goals with 12 assists in 29 games.

The LA Kings have 11 games remaining in the 2021 season and are seven points out of a playoff spot. Burning the first year of his entry-level contract doesn’t make much sense, so letting Byfield come up, get acclimated to life in the NHL, and learn and watch from one of the game’s best centers is the perfect way to bring him along.

Of course, he has no shortage of confidence heading into his impending debut.

“Byfield’s confidence has sky-rocketed at this point,” head coach John Wroblewski said following the Reign’s 4-2 loss on Sunday. “That was one of his best games carrying the puck. You’re seeing why he was drafted for his full game. [The] learning curve has gone from a struggling plus-minus player to a dominant player. Loved his game today, liked it for a while, too.”

Of the top three picks in the 2020 NHL Draft, Byfield was the only one who had yet to make his debut.

More Coach Wroblewski quotes from Sunday’s Ontario Reign game.

On what Byfield did well on Sunday

That was his best game transporting the puck through the neutral zone, I felt. He’s been building up to that game, so it’s not like he’s been deficient in that in that department.

On how far he’s come

His plus/minus was down there at probably the worst in the league, if downright the bottom, and now he’s just, I mean, I don’t know what it looks from your vantage, but, to me, it’s a dominant player.

On needing an assassin’s mentality

I thought he was he was outstanding. He still needs to work on some things, too. You get some of the scoring zones. We talked to him a lot about his needing an ‘assassin’s mentality’ in the scoring zones.

On Craig Johnson’s role in Byfield’s development

I think Craig Johnson deserves a lot of credit with, you know, Quinton has put in the work, but there’s been a lot of detail and work, and video sessions help in helping QB with his game.