The future looks very bright for the National Hockey League teams in Southern California. Top prospects for both the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are off to great starts in the American Hockey League (AHL). Also, in a marquee matchup in the NCAA over the weekend, the most recent top pick by the Edmonton Oilers and possibly the number one overall pick of this year’s NHL Entry Draft were on display.
Quinton Byfield Nets His First Pro Goal
The Kings envisioned a lot of goals from Byfield after they used the second overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft to select him,. They finally got to see one at the AHL level on Sunday night as he scored during the Ontario Reign’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Tucson Roadrunners.
Byfield got to the front of the net and swept the puck home for his first professional goal. Arthur Kaliyev and Tyler Madden picked up the assists, which is a trio the Kings fans are hopeful will connect on a lot of NHL goals in the future. This gives Byfield three points in his first five games as he had two assists coming into Sunday’s contest.
The Reign’s season has gotten off to a rough start. The shootout loss was earned them their first point of the season after losses in each of their first four games. The roster has a ton of young talent with the likes of Byfield, Samuel Fagemo, Kaliyev, Madden, Akil Thomas and Alex Turcotte. This group has got a ton of potential and the results should improve as they get more time on ice.
Lukas Dostal Dominating the Competition
Just down the road from the Kings, the Anaheim Ducks also have an absolute stacked prospect system. Their AHL affiliate, the San Deigo Gulls, is loaded with recent high draft picks like Jack Badini, Jamie Drysdale, Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Jacob Perreault, Brayden Tracey and Trevor Zegras, who is tied for the league lead in scoring with seven points.
While this group of talented skaters is getting a lot of attention, the young man between the pipes is making a name for himself. Dostal has been incredible between the crease in leading the Gulls to a perfect 5-0-0-0 record to start the season.
In his first four starts, Dostal has allowed just seven goals on 159 shots for a 1.75 goals-against average (GAA) and .956 save percentage (SV%). After making 29 saves in his first start, he had to make at least 40 saves in each of the next three including 43 during a 3-2 win over the Colorado Eagles on Sunday. Among AHL goaltenders who have made more than two starts, he has the best SV% and is second in GAA to Logan Thompson of the Henderson Silver Knights, who has played in one less game.
The Ducks drafted the young Czech Republic native in the third round (85th overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old netminder gives Anaheim a good problem to have. With John Gibson cemented in the starter’s role with the Ducks, the team can take their time in developing Dostal.
Dylan Holloway & Owen Power Square Off
Two of the most talented rosters in all of college hockey got together over the weekend when the Michigan Wolverines hosted the Wisconsin Badgers. After Michigan won the first round of the two-game set 5-1, Wisconsin bounced back for a 3-1 win on Sunday.
Holloway opened the scoring midway through the first period by getting through the defense and burying the puck into the back of the net.
The 14th overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by the Oilers also added an assist on the night. The sophomore now was eight goals and 25 points in 14 games.
Power is one of the players who is being projected as possibly the first pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and he showed exactly why on Sunday. The 18-year-old defenseman tied the score in the second period with the assists coming from Kent Johnson and Thomas Bordeleau.
Unfortunately, that was the only puck the Wolverines could get past freshman goaltender Cameron Rowe, who made 24 saves for the seventh win of the season. Power has three goals and 13 points in 18 games to go along with a plus-9 rating. Whether he goes first overall at the next draft or not, he is a special talent that will be in an NHL arena near you in the future.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.