The Los Angeles Kings have released their 22-player opening night roster and it is noticeably missing second-overall pick Quinton Byfield. The World Junior silver medalist has been sent to the AHL along with fellow top prospect (and WJC gold medal winner) Arthur Kaliyev. Notably, both players were not placed on the taxi squad which had just four of six spots filled—Lias Andersson, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Austin Strand, and Matt Villalta.
Byfield—unlike first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and third-overall Tim Stuetzle who both seem locked into roster spots in New York and Ottawa respectively— will have to wait to make his NHL debut for the time being. The 18-year-old center doesn’t have a junior team to go back to yet as the OHL hasn’t set a start date for their season or even confirmed that they will have one. Byfield spent the last two seasons with the Sudbury Wolves, dominating the competition to the tune of 82 points in 45 games last year.
Still, he is an unfinished product and the Kings have a tough decision on their hands. Do you put him in the NHL right away, stick with him through any potential struggles and start the clock on his entry-level contract? Or put him in the AHL where he can come along more slowly and allow his ELC to slide forward at least one year?
For now at least, he and Kaliyev—who is armed with an elite shot but has other glaring flaws in his game—will have to wait.