With no OHL season last year, LA Kings prospects Quinton Byfield and Arthur Kaliyev were permitted to play in the AHL.
One of the benefits of the shortened, pandemic-impacted 2021 season was the allowance of players under the age of 20 to play at the AHL level. Under normal circumstances, that obviously is not the case. But last year permitted players like LA Kings 2020 second-overall pick Quinton Byfield and 2019 second-round pick Arthur Kaliyev to play with the Ontario Reign instead of their respective OHL clubs.
Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, it would appear that the CHL is making a permanent modification to the rule of U20 players in the AHL.
CHL sources say final details are being worked out with the NHL that will allow junior eligible players who played 20 or more AHL games last season to return to the AHL next season, rather than back to their major junior club. Bit more complicated, but thats the gist of it.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 22, 2021
Kaliyev turned 20 at the end of June, so the rule change will not apply to him. However, Byfield, who turns 19 in August, benefits significantly from the CHL rule change. The Newmarket, Ontario, native played in 32 games for the Reign last season, scoring eight goals and 12 assists.
He had a slow start to the year but found his game in March, scoring goals in five straight games. Byfield also played in six games at the NHL level, allowing him to get his feet wet without starting the clock on his entry-level contract.
I think most expect Byfield to be in the mix for a full-time NHL role in the 2021-22 season, but the modification to the CHL rule gives the Kings a little more flexibility in Byfield’s development.