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As the NHL season begins, teams are making crucial roster decisions which have forced some of the league's top prospects to start in the AHL.

The Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, and Winnipeg Jets have all sent their top prospects to their respective AHL teams. Five of the seven players sent down are eligible to be sent back to their respective junior teams in the OHL and WHL once their seasons begin, but are allowed to play in the AHL in the meantime.

The Ducks have assigned defenceman Jamie Drysdale and forward Trevor Zegras to the San Diego Gulls.

"It's really simple," Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said about the moves. "It goes back to what I've said before. We want to do our best to put players in good places to succeed. It's our jobs to really look after their careers. Their careers early on are very fragile. This has been going on long before I got here."

"It doesn't mean you've got to go play there a year," Eakins said. "It doesn't mean you've got to play there two years. But we really highly value that experience for a player, so both of those players, maybe they're going to play one game, maybe they're going to play two, maybe they'll be there a week."

"From Ryan Getzlaf to Corey Perry to Bobby Ryan to Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, just go down the list other than Cam, they've all gone and had that experience. Both players (Drysdale and Zegras), they're going to understand that. They're both chomping at the bit to be NHL players."

"But, in the end, it is our job to look after their careers and we're going to do that accordingly."

"I look at it as a positive thing," Drysdale said of joining the Gulls. "Having the opportunity to play against men on the pro level is definitely exciting for me. I can learn a lot, learn about the game, learn about how I can be effective on this level. That's what I'm trying to do day in and day out. I have zero complaints. I've come to California, beautiful weather and I'm playing hockey."

"In terms of expectations, I really don't have any," Zegras said. "Honestly, I want to do everything I can to make this team. It's been a lifelong goal to play in the NHL, and I'm right there now. I really would do anything I can to make this team (the Ducks)."

The Colorado Avalanche have assigned defenceman Bowen Byram to the Colorado Eagles.

The 19-year-old from Cranbrook, British Columbia is coming off a stellar World Juniors that saw him put up 5 points (1 G, 4 A), 0 penalty minutes, and was a +13 in 7 games.

This move might just be a paper transaction, as Byram is expected to finish his quarantine Saturday, and join the Avalanche on Monday ahead of their West Coast road trip.

The Los Angeles Kings have assigned forwards Arthur Kaliyev and Quinton Byfield to the Ontario Reign.

Kaliyev (USA) and Byfield (Canada) are coming off their second World Junior Hockey Championships. Kaliyev had 8 points (3 G, 5 A), 4 penalty minutes, and was a +9 in 7 games en route to winning Gold. Byfield had 7 points (2 G, 5 A), 4 penalty minutes, and was a +7 in 7 games, taking home Silver.

Finally, the Winnipeg Jets have assigned forward Cole Perfetti, and defenceman Ville Heinola to the Manitoba Moose.

Perfetti (Canada) and Heinola (Finland) both took home medals from the 2021 World Juniors. Perfetti tallied 6 points (2 G, 4 A), 2 penalty minutes, and was a +5 in 7 games. Heinola put up 4 points (4 A), 4 penalty minutes, and was a +3 in 7 games as Finland won Bronze.

As mentioned, Drysdale (Erie-OHL), Byram (Vancouver-WHL), Kaliyev (Hamilton-OHL), Byfield (Sudbury-OHL), and Perfetti (Saginaw-OHL) are eligible to return to their junior teams when their seasons begin.

Source: The Orange County Register (Drysale/Zegras)

Source: CBS Sports (Byram)
JANUARY 13, 2021  (16H33)