The Los Angeles Kings have decided that burning a year of Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s entry-level contract isn’t worth it at the moment, and have instead sent him back to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL for the remainder of the season. Anderson-Dolan had played five games so far with the Kings, recording his first NHL point and getting a taste of what life is like in professional hockey. He’ll now return to the junior ranks and likely compete for a spot on Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championship. Los Angeles has recalled Sean Walker from the AHL to fill the roster spot.
Even though it may feel that way to him, this isn’t a critique of Anderson-Dolan’s play. The 19-year old forward was actually quite impressive in his short stint, limited as it was. The Kings have decided that averaging just over 11 minutes per night isn’t the optimal development strategy, and if they weren’t about to give him a boost in ice time, sending him back to Spokane was the only other option. Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times tweets that Kings head coach John Stevens didn’t want Anderson-Dolan sticking around in a losing culture, and noted that he’ll be the leader for his WHL team. The Kings are 2-5-1 through their first eight games, and currently have the second worst goal differential in the entire league.
For Kings fans, it will be hard to see Anderson-Dolan leave in the midst of such a poor start to the season by the team, but there are brighter days on the horizon. The young forward is part of a prospect group that should be making a substantial impact before long, alongside names like Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, Kale Clague and Akil Thomas. The World Juniors could be filled with Kings prospects this year, and give fans something to cheer for during what is looking like a down year.