With the Kings and Geese squaring off at Honda Middle on Wednesday for the primary of two conferences that can shut out their preseason schedules, the injury to high Kings prospect Quinton Byfield overshadowed the two-game tune-up version of the Freeway Faceoff.
Citing their journey some 40 miles down the highway, the Kings didn’t have any media availability earlier than the sport on Wednesday however supplied a restricted replace indicating that Byfield was “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury.
The hulking pivot and 2020 No. 2 total decide was injured Tuesday when a examine by Arizona Coyotes ahead Christian Fischer despatched him towards the boards with his ft positioned uncomfortably. As he fell, his decrease left leg buckled and contorted unnaturally, which led to his lack of ability to assist his personal weight on his left leg.
Whereas the severity of the injury remained unknown, the incident bore similarity to 2 others that resulted in severe injury for gamers to whom Byfield was already related traditionally. Defenseman Seth Jones, who had beforehand been tied for the highest-ever draft choice of a Black NHL participant earlier than Byfield surpassed him, broke his ankle on an analogous participant close to the boards in February 2020, inflicting him to overlook the rest of the common season.
For Kings followers, the sight of the younger heart taking place probably triggered disagreeable recollections of the damaged leg Anze Kopitar sustained in 2011 when he obtained a examine and his skate received twisted up with the half wall. The injury prompted him to overlook the rest of the common season and playoffs, only a 12 months earlier than the Kings received the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
At a minimal, it appears unlikely Byfield might be prepared to start out the common season on Oct. 14. Already projected extensively to be on the brief checklist of candidates for the Calder Trophy, recognizing the NHL’s rookie of the 12 months, Byfield largely justified expectations in coaching camp. Kings Coach Todd McLellan stated Byfield was “giving himself permission to play the best way he may play” Monday, a day earlier than he sustained the injury.
“He has an unimaginable ability set. He wouldn’t be who he’s proper now if he didn’t have that, however the confidence is beginning to come out day after day. He feels higher with the group,” McLellan stated. “He’s extra comfy with the puck, he doesn’t really feel like he doesn’t should share it straight away and, in flip, he’s making higher reads and higher offensive performs.”
McLellan didn’t decide to Byfield being on the opening night time roster – a query that now seems moot – however did elaborate on the professionals and cons of a high prospect enjoying a tempered position within the NHL versus a extra outstanding one in junior hockey or a lower-level professional league.
Whereas setbacks within the large present can hurt a participant’s confidence, McLellan pointed to examples of gamers he beforehand coached – San Jose’s Logan Couture and Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl – as prospects whose roles grew over the course of their first full professional seasons, finally resulting in NHL stardom.
The Kings recalled Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Arthur Kaliyev, Alex Turcotte and Rasmus Kupari, 4 forwards who rely three pure facilities amongst them. Whereas strikes like this have been hinted at earlier within the week with the intention to keep away from many gamers competing in each video games within the back-to-back set with Arizona and the Geese, there could possibly be a chance for these gamers to point out they’re the fitting match for the large membership as Byfield’s injury heals.
Discovering a match
Between deciding on facilities within the first spherical just lately – Gabe Vilardi, Kupari, Turcotte and Byfield in 4 consecutive drafts – and signing former Montreal Canadiens heart Phillip Danault in free company, the Kings have one thing of an abundance down the center. That’s to not point out Anderson-Dolan, Blake Lizotte and versatile ahead Trevor Moore.
That surplus has not involved Normal Supervisor Rob Blake, who earlier within the offseason famous that the transition from heart to wing is far more widespread than conversions from wing to heart.
“That’s type of our philosophy that we’ve had right here for the previous few years,” Blake stated. “We’re going to place the perfect gamers within the lineup and we’ll filter them into the positions which can be greatest fitted to them.”