Five things to watch for as L.A. Kings embark on new NHL season
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 later was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list while preparing to return.
The No. 2 overall pick in 2020 produced five goals and 10 points in 40 games, despite his obvious skills and size (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), and he was scratched after the first two games of the Kings’ playoff series against Edmonton. He must turn his occasional brilliance into consistent and responsible play as the third-line center behind Kopitar and Phillip Danault.
Gabe Vilardi, whose progress has been slowed by injuries since he was drafted No. 11 in 2017, was impressive during training camp. He filled in well while Viktor Arvidsson (20 goals in 66 games last season) recovered from back surgery. Arvidsson’s quicker-than-expected return puts Vilardi on the third line 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 punch to the second unit. Defenseman Tobias Bjornfot, 21, has struggled to keep a spot and that’s unlikely to change.