A modification of the CHL/NHL agreement could allow LA Kings top prospect Quinton Byfield to play in the AHL this season. It shouldn’t matter.
TSN’s Darren Dreger recently reported there will most likely be a modification made to the developmental agreement between the Canadian Hockey League and National Hockey League that would allow players who meet certain criteria to play in the American Hockey League.
Under normal circumstances, players under the age of twenty have to play in either the CHL or NHL; they cannot play in the American Hockey League (AHL) until their age-20 season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season was canceled. Under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella, LA Kings’ top prospect Quinton Byfield played for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL in his draft year.
As a result of the season being canceled, the 18-year-old Byfield was able to play for the Ontario Reign of the AHL.
— Hockey Royalty (@Hockey_Royalty) July 22, 2021
It appears as though the OHL will be playing this upcoming season. Without a modification to the CHL/NHL agreement, the LA Kings and Quinton Byfield will once again have a big decision to make.
Byfield will be 19 years old at the start of either the NHL or OHL seasons. As a result, the organization will have to determine whether he will play for the Kings or the Wolves for the 2021-22 season.
If the aforementioned modification goes through, then Byfield can play in the AHL this season. As good as this seems on the surface, it really is not the best option for Quinton Byfield this season.
By all measures, Byfield had an excellent season for the Ontario Reign in 2020-21. After a slow start, he totaled eight goals and 12 assists for 21 in 32 games played.
As the season went on, Byfield looked more comfortable playing against the best competition he had faced in his career. His play in the AHL earned him a six-game call-up to the NHL to play for the LA Kings.
During his six-game “cup of coffee” with the Kings, Byfield had only one assist. However, the lone assist does not tell the whole story as Byfield looked comfortable playing in the NHL as well. In all six games he played for the Kings, he was noticeable and making plays – even if it didn’t show up on the scoresheet.
After his showing in both the AHL and NHL this past season, there is no way Quinton Byfield is going back to the OHL. With that said, some will say being able to play in the AHL again this year would be best for his development.
However, I believe the best place for Quinton Byfield to continue the development of his hockey career is in Los Angeles, playing for the LA Kings this season.
At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds (and growing), he already has the size to compete in the NHL. Byfield also has the speed to burn, outstanding vision, and hockey sense to go along with a lethal wrist shot.
Quinton Byfield (@LAKings) steals the puck, and then Quinton Byfield scores for the @ontarioreign in @TheAHL action.#GoKingsGo @Sudbury_Wolves alumni.https://t.co/bp6xPUui8m pic.twitter.com/2GTkly90HL
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) April 7, 2021
It would be a huge benefit for Byfield to get acclimated to play in the NHL now; the best way to develop is to play against the best competition. Another added benefit of having Byfield in the NHL this season is the mentoring he will get from the likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick.
It will not hurt Byfield’s development to start out as the LA Kings third-line center and slowly ease him into more minutes and responsibilities as the season goes on.
Having Byfield play in the NHL this season will also help develop the Kings other prospects in Ontario. This season’s Reign team will be loaded, and those prospects will need playing time.
Players like Alex Turcotte, Rasmus Kupari, and Tyler Madden need to be thrust into the time and responsibilities that would have been taken by Byfield in Ontario. The top prospects will soon be in Los Angeles, and the time in Ontario needs to be maximized for all of them.
Quinton Byfield is ready for primetime. It’s time to let him shine.