Though they made a valiant effort this season, the Los Angeles Kings have fallen out of the playoff race in the West Division once again. The team has gone 3-7 in their last ten and now sit seven points behind the Arizona Coyotes with the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues in between. With that in mind, it’s time to give some playing time and experience to their young prospects, most notably Quinton Byfield.
The second-overall pick has been recalled to the NHL taxi squad for the first time this season. He is coming up from the Ontario Reign along with Lias Andersson, while Boko Imama has been reassigned back to the AHL.
Despite being just 18 and not usually eligible to play in the AHL, Byfield has been able to spend the entire season honing his craft at the professional level with the Reign thanks to the OHL’s shutdown. That gave the 6’4″ center a chance to get his feet wet at the minor league level without as much pressure, and he responded with eight goals and 20 points in 30 games. While that’s not putting him on any leaderboards, Byfield’s long-term development is the important thing here and he has shown steps already.
He scored just one goal through his first 15 games for Ontario but then went on an impressive five-game scoring streak in late March. While there is still inconsistency in his play, a chance to taste the NHL at the end of this season will only help him down the road.
For those Kings fans worried about burning the first year of his entry-level contract, Byfield would need to play in more than seven NHL games down the stretch to have it kick in for 2021-22.