NHL.com: Unexpected opportunity for junior stars to taste AHL

American Hockey League

An influx of first-round picks from recent NHL drafts has hit the American Hockey League.

The AHL is playing a condensed schedule, which started Feb. 5, due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Among the changes for this season is the opportunity for players drafted from a team in the Canadian Hockey League with remaining junior eligibility to play in the AHL because the Western Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League have yet to start their seasons. In the past, players selected from the OHL, WHL or the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with junior eligibility had to remain in the NHL or be returned to their junior team.

This season, these players are experiencing professional competition a season or two early, adjusting to the pro lifestyle, and working closely with NHL development coaches.

Here is a look at some of the players benefitting from the unexpected chance to play in the AHL:

Quinton Byfield, Ontario (Los Angeles Kings)

The No. 2 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft has played on the top line for Ontario and scored four points (one goal, three assists) in six games.

The 18-year-old forward scored his first goal against Tucson (Arizona Coyotes) on Sunday, when he won a net-front puck battle.

Last season with Sudbury of the OHL, Byfield (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) scored 82 points (32 goals, 50 assists) in 45 games.

Jamie Drysdale, San Diego (Anaheim Ducks)

The 18-year-old defenseman was the No. 6 pick in the 2020 draft and is considered a future cornerstone for the Ducks.

Anaheim opted to blend several AHL veterans into San Diego’s lineup to complement a deep base of young talent. As a result, Drysdale (5-11, 175) has been playing with veteran Keegan Lowe on the top defense pair.

Drysdale leads AHL defensemen with six points (two goals, four assists) in six games. He scored 47 points (nine goals, 38 assists) in 49 games with Erie of the OHL last season.

Nolan Foote, Binghamton (New Jersey Devils)

The Devils acquired the 20-year-old forward in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for forward Blake Coleman on Feb. 16, 2020. The Lightning selected Foote (6-3, 193) with the No. 27 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

He’s playing on a line with Ben Street and Brett Seney and has scored four points (one goal, three assists) in four games.

With Kelowna of the WHL last season, Foote scored 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 27 games. He is the son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote and the younger brother of Lightning defenseman Cal Foote.

Thomas Harley, Texas (Dallas Stars)

The Stars selected Harley with the No. 18 pick in the 2019 draft, and the 19-year-old has scored five points (two goals, three assists) in five games, tied for second among AHL defensemen.

Harley (6-3, 190) made his NHL debut last season, playing 10:58 against the Colorado Avalanche in a Stanley Cup Qualifiers game Aug. 5. He scored 57 points (18 goals, 39 assists) in 59 games with Mississauga of the OHL.

Seth Jarvis, Chicago (Carolina Hurricanes)

Jarvis, a 19-year-old forward selected in the first round (No. 13) in the 2020 draft, is tied for the AHL lead in goals (four), points (seven) and power-play goals (three) in five games. He’s played on a line with Nashville Predators forward prospect Philip Tomasino, the No. 24 pick of the 2019 draft.

The Predators were able to place prospects in Chicago when their affiliate, Milwaukee, opted not to play this season.

Last season Jarvis was second in the WHL with 98 points (42 goals, 56 assists) in 58 games.

Cole Perfetti, Manitoba (Winnipeg Jets)

The Canadian Division had to wait a week to begin play, but the 19-year-old forward was ready.

The No. 10 pick in the 2020 draft, Perfetti (5-11, 177) scored in his pro debut against Toronto (Toronto Maple Leafs) on Monday. It’s Perfetti’s only point in two games.

Perfetti was second in the OHL last season with 111 points (37 goals, 74 assists) in 61 games with Saginaw.

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