Due to COVID-19, the American Hockey League opened its doors to junior-aged players that would typically be playing within the Canadian Hockey League this winter.
With the three leagues that make up the CHL – the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – having each been at various levels of their respective return-to-play structures when the AHL season began, junior aged players who didn’t have a home for the winter months were able to join AHL training camps and try out for spots within the pro rosters of their drafting NHL club’s affiliate.
That experiment saw a number of high profile prospects travel to their respective AHL clubs for the start of the 2020-21 season. On average, teams have played roughly 8-12 games thus far. With dominant junior hockey players entering the professional realm for the first quarter of the season, junior-eligible players such as Seth Jarvis, Jamie Drysdale, Phil Tomasino and Quinton Byfield have reaped the benefits of getting into some game action.
Jarvis (of Winnipeg) has seven goals and 11 points in just nine games for Chicago, alongside Wolves teammate Tomasino, who is operating at a point-per-game rate in seven contests. Drysdale had four goals and nine points in 11 games with the San Diego Gulls prior to his promotion to the Anaheim Ducks’ taxi squad, while Byfield has six points in 10 games with the Ontario Reign. Winnipeg’s Cole Perfetti has been performing well with the Manitoba Moose (two goals and four points in nine games).
Jarvis’ 11 points leads the AHL, while his seven goals place him second in that category. On Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes made the disappointing yet expected announcement that Jarvis has been sent back to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks for the remainder of the season in line with the amended AHL/CHL player agreement for 2020-21.
“It’s been nice to have fun with these guys here and enjoy my time,” Jarvis said on Tuesday. “It’d be nice to keep playing here with these guys, but going back, I think I’m going to enjoy every moment of it. I think juniors is kind of the best years of your life. That’s when you make the most friends and have the most fun. I’ll have fun going back and I don’t want it to affect my development at all, so a lot of the onus will be on me to keep pushing myself every day and keep competing.”
Portland’s WHL opener is set for Thursday, March 18, and the Winterhawks will begin camp this Friday. Jarvis had 42 goals and 98 points in 58 games in 2019-20 in the WHL. The Jarvis-less Wolves will return to play on Friday against Cleveland.