The American Hockey League (AHL) finally kicked off its season over the weekend. With the delays in Canadian Hockey League (CHL), there are a bunch of recently drafted players in the AHL who normally wouldn’t be. A pair of top Anaheim Ducks prospects had big professional debuts. The Los Angeles Kings’ top pick in 2020 wasted very little time finding the scoresheet. Plus, the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators have some of their prospects playing together and they have a lot to be excited about.
Jamie Drysdale Nets First Pro Goal
The San Diego Gulls opened their 2020-21 season by hosting the Bakersfield Condors in a two-game set. This gave some of the Ducks’ top young players their first taste of professional hockey. While Trevor Zegras stole the show with two goals and five points in his first two AHL games, Drysdale made a good first impression too.
After being held off the scoresheet in Friday night’s season opener, the sixth overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft netted his first professional goal late in the first period to give the Gulls a 2-1 lead.
Drysdale showed off his keen awareness by quickly jumping into the rush then beating goaltender Olivier Rodrigue by shooting back to his left. He finished the night with two points, as he and Zegras assisted on Sam Carrick’s second-period goal, and was named the First Star of the Game.
During a postgame interview, Zegras revealed that he and Drysdale are roommates and also let us know that he isn’t shy about reminded him who won the recent gold medal game at the World Junior Championship.
The Ducks have gotten off to a better-than-expected start this season. They currently sit in the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. No matter what happens the rest of the way in 2020-21, the future is very bright in Anaheim with players like Drysdale and Zegras on the rise.
Quinton Byfield Gets First Point
The Ducks’ biggest rival, the Kings, have the third-fewest points in the NHL so far. However, they have a lot to look forward to with a pipeline loaded with a ton of talented young players. One of their top-rated prospects, Byfield, made his professional debut for Ontario Reign last night.
Byfield, drafted second overall by the Kings this past October, didn’t take long to find the scoresheet. Late in the first period, he had the primary assist on Daniel Brickley’s goal to open up the scoring.
He made a nice quick pass up along the boards to Brickley at the left point, who took advantage of the traffic in front of goaltender Logan Thompson for his third career AHL goal. The Henderson Silver Knights took over from this point, beating the Reign 5-2 in their league debut.
Byfield started his professional career on Ontario’s third line, centering Blaine Byron and Samuel Fagemo. He is one of many young players who couldn’t play in the AHL because of his age in a normal season. He would either be with the Kings or back in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). But, because the OHL and Western Hockey League (WHL) have yet to start their season’s the CHL and AHL eased up on their age rules until they start playing again.
Seth Jarvis Among Top Performers in Chicago
The Chicago Wolves started their first season as the new affiliate for the Hurricanes on Friday night. They are also suiting up players from the Predators organization after the Milwaukee Admirals decided not to participate in the 2020-21 season. This has given them a loaded roster featuring multiple first-round picks.
One such top pick is Jarvis, who was taken by the Hurricanes with the 13th overall pick in 2020. He impressed right off the bat by scoring the eventual game-winning goal, while on the power play, in Chicago’s 3-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Philip Tomasino, the Predators’ 2019 first-round pick (24th overall), picked up his second assist of the night on the play in his professional debut. Chicago head coach Ryan Warsofsky put four former first-round picks on his top power-play unit with Jarvis, Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki and Dominik Bokk.
Jarvis scored his second AHL goal in less than 24 hours as the Wolves beat the Rockford IceHogs on Saturday afternoon. He scored off a rebound to get Chicago on the board after falling behind 2-0 early in the first period.
He added third goal by tapping home the puck after Jamieson Rees dazzled with some great moves through traffic.
The goal was originally given to Rees but was changed to Jarvis. Rees, Carolina’s second-round pick (44th overall) in 2019, had the primary assist on both of Jarvis’ goals on Saturday and finished the game as a plus-4.
With the AHL season now in full and hopefully the OHL and WHL seasons beginning soon, this is a great time for prospects news, rumors and highlights. Keep checking back each day for all the latest.
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.