Five things to watch for as L.A. Kings embark on new NHL season

Kings center Quinton Byfield, left, battles San Jose Sharks defenseman Markus Nutivaara for the puck.

Kings center Quinton Byfield, left, battles for the puck against San Jose Sharks defenseman Markus Nutivaara during a preseason game Sept. 25.

(Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

All eyes will be on Quinton Byfield who was expected to play a key role last season but broke his ankle before the season and was later placed on the COVID-19 protocol list during preparation to return .

The No. 2 overall pick in 2020, despite his obvious ability and size (6ft 5, 220lbs), scored five goals and 10 points in 40 games, and he was scratched after the first two games of the Kings’ playoff series against Edmonton . As the third-row center behind Kopitar and Phillip Danault, he must turn his occasional brilliance into consistent and responsible play.

Gabe Vilardi, whose progress has been hampered by injuries since his call-up as No11 in 2017, has been impressive in training camp. He filled in well while Viktor Arvidsson (20 goals in 66 games last season) was recovering from back surgery. Arvidsson’s faster-than-expected return puts Vilardi on the third row with Byfield and Alex Iafallo, a golden chance for all three to prove themselves.

Winger Arthur Kaliyev, 21, scored six of his 14 goals on the power play and can add clout to the second unit. Defender Tobias Bjornfot, 21, is struggling to keep a spot and that’s unlikely to change.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/hockey/story/2022-10-10/los-angeles-kings-five-things-watch-nhl-season Five things to watch for as L.A. Kings embark on new NHL season

Emma Bowman

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