With the LA Kings’ talented prospect pool on display, here are five things to watch at this weekend’s Arizona Rookie Faceoff.
The LA Kings will be sending a very talented group of prospects to the desert this weekend. Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev, Alex Turcotte, and Rasmus Kupari — young stars who shined for the Ontario Reign this past season — will be joined by some newcomers in Brandt Clarke and Francesco Pinelli, fresh off being selected by LA in the 2021 draft.
Here are five things I’ll be watching this weekend.
1. How many goals will Arthur Kaliyev score?
We all know what Arthur Kaliyev can do. His shot might be the most lethal, not just on the Ontario Reign but also in the entire LA Kings organization. Coming off a thrust into AHL play earlier than anticipated due to COVID, the increased level of competition did not slow Arthur down.
Kaliyev finished his first pro season with 14 goals in 40 games played for the Ontario Reign. That’s a 0.35 G/GP (goals per game) total and is the highest for a Reign rookie since Tyler Toffoli for the then-AHL Kings affiliate Manchester Monarchs during the 2012-2013 season. I see no reason why Kaliyev can’t finish with multiple goals this weekend.
2. Our first look at Helge Grans
We finally get our chance to look at one of the more raw talented prospects the Kings possess in Helge Grans. Standing 6-foot-3 without skates on, Grans, like Quinton Byfield, has a presence on the ice just from his height alone.
After watching some of Grans’ game film, there’s a lot to like from an offensive standpoint. He is aggressive through the neutral zone and can quarterback a power play.
Helge Grans is one of the Kings many, many great prospects. He showed nicely, moving over to the SHL full-time this past year and should take big leaps in the coming years. Kings did well to get him when they did. He should have been gone ~15 picks before he was taken. https://t.co/fzKIYMRq4h pic.twitter.com/4yfw0kzEqL
— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) June 4, 2021
I’ll be keeping an eye out for Grans to display that offensive ability this weekend, and see if he can hold himself down defensively as well.
3. Will this be a statement weekend for Alex Turcotte?
After a dominant showing on the first day of development camp in late August, Turcotte was unable to participate for the rest of the week due to emergency surgery for acute appendicitis. Even with that bad break, he should be healthy enough to play this weekend and be counted on to contribute.
We started to see a little more confidence from Alex over the final few games for the Ontario Reign during the 2021 season. Despite having to miss the final game of the regular season and the subsequent one playoff game, he was awarded the CCM/AHL Player of the Week award for the week ending May 9th. Turcotte scored six points in three games, including a hat trick on May 9th against the Colorado Eagles, to earn that honor.
— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) May 10, 2021
I want to see if he can carry that momentum he had toward the end of his first pro season with a quality showing during this three-game stint, and show Kings’ management that he is ready to have more eyes on him during training camp.
4. The fresh crop of young talent.
Just under two months from being chosen by the Kings at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Brandt Clarke and Francesco Pinelli will look to show LA management that they were worthy of the selections.
Brandt Clarke is a fun and highly skilled defensive player. His charismatic personality allows you the chance to know where he is on the ice at all times. A trait Kings fans have come to learn by watching a certain No. 8 on the LA blueline.
He has the ability to cut through a crowded neutral zone any way he sees fit — a skill I hope can translate when driving down the 405 Freeway during rush hour traffic. Because, with his talent and superstar potential, I see him playing hockey in Los Angeles for a long time.
Watch for Brandt Clarke to play a lot of minutes for LA over the weekend and be a staple on the box score for the Kings rookies.
Francesco Paulo Pinelli was projected by many NHL analysts to be selected in the first round of the 2021 draft. When Mark Yannetti and company saw him fall out of the first round, they pounced on the opportunity to grab him at 42nd overall by surrendering a fifth-round pick to do so.
This could be the chance for Pinelli to show why it was a bad move by some of those NHL teams to pass on him late in the first round.
5. Can Quinton Byfield dominate?
With an unexpected year of professional hockey under his belt. The development of Quinton Byfield has been fast-tracked a bit.
Byfield, who is only 19, found himself dominating games in the AHL playing all situations for the Reign. His composition of size, speed, and skill was very evident in multiple games this past season.
Now with a year of AHL experience under his belt, I want to see Quinton take the next step and be a commanding force on the ice. This weekend’s Arizona Rookie Faceoff should give him the chance to do just that.
Many people, including my colleague Scott Kinville at Hockey Royalty, expect Quinton Byfield to be an integral part of the LA Kings lineup for the 2021-22 season. I find myself a little more pessimistic than most when it comes to the possibility of him making the NHL roster to start the season. In order for Byfield to have a spot on the Kings come opening night against the Golden Knights, he’ll have to show he is ready with his play — and it starts this weekend.
Here is the full schedule and roster for the weekend’s events.