Manor Predicting Quinton Byfield’s Upcoming Contract with LA Kings


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Coming off his first 20 goal and 35 assist season, Kings forward Quinton Byfield has to be feeling good about himself. He’s also $425k richer due to reaching performance bonuses for each of those marks on the final day of the 2023-24 regular season.

Byfield had a successful night! With a goal and an assist he earned $425K in bonuses today.

As the #GoKingsGo are over the cap, this will all increase their bonus overage cap hit for next season.

— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) April 19, 2024

Now comes the harder part, where to go from here.

At just 21 years old, the team’s No. 2 overall pick back at the 2020 NHL Draft is sitting in a pretty good position. Unlike many of the team’s other top prospects who come off their initial Entry Level Contracts with little NHL action under their belts, Byfield has already amassed 179 games with the big club. Although he sits right around .50 points-per-game in his young career, that doesn’t tell the real story. Last season — a breakout campaign by all measures — saw the versatile young forward produce 55 points in 80 games, pushing him up to .69 PPG. This is expected to be his new floor moving forward.

And that’s where things start to get complicated.

In a nutshell, much of the conversation over the past month or so has been regarding a bridge deal (typically in the two to three-year range) or a long-term deal (which would be seven or eight years, the max allowable under the CBA). There’s also a third option, which would be a one-year deal — which essentially forces both sides to kick the can down the road, to where they’ll be in the same position. It was a tactic that worked with Mikey Anderson in Sept. 2022, yet we don’t think is applicable here.

Lurking in the background in these type of Restricted Free Agent (RFA) situations there’s always the perceived threat of another team signing a Kings player to an Offer Sheet. In reality, they just aren’t a tool widely used in the NHL (for whatever reason, that’s a different argument for a different day). In theory, one of the league’s other 31 NHL clubs could sign Byfield to a big money Offer Sheet, forcing the Kings to match it or to let him go (and take the draft pick compensation instead). This whole idea would have more than a single digit possibility if the Kings were up against the cap and in a spot where they couldn’t match this hypothetical offer. Given that the Kings have nearly $20M to play with this summer, we don’t see the need to spend any more time discussing a possible Offer Sheet on Byfield.

Back to reality…

While nobody knows for sure, it’s fairly safe to assume the player’s agent wants to get the most amount of money for his client as possible. Meanwhile, the team likely wants to save as much money as possible. So, how can than find the right balance that makes both sides reasonably happy?

Bridge Deal​

A two-year deal from a team perspective makes a lot of sense. Anze Kopitar has two years remaining on his new deal that kicks in for the 2024-25 season. And while it isn’t anywhere close to official, it’s at least commonly believed that he’ll be retiring at the end of this deal. He’ll have 20 NHL seasons completed at that point and at age 38, he may be looking to call it a career. If he did come back, it certainly wouldn’t be at $7M, so either way the majority of the ‘Kopitar money’ could slide over to Byfield in two years.

Would this type of short-term deal be good for Byfield? Yes and no. He’ll make less money, both annually and in total, on a short-term deal. He’ll still be an RFA two summers from now, so he’d somewhat be back in the same position — albeit, hopefully, with two seasons added to his totals, where he produced more than 55 points in each of them.

Conversely, he should be in a really good position to sign an eight-year deal at that point. Thus, you could look at this current negotiation and be thinking, ‘How can I maximize these next 10 years’ (meaning a two-year, then an eight-year deal)?

Let’s assume a bridge deal comes in around $4-5M AAV.

Long-Term Deal​

Cutting right to the chase, we just see the Kings wanting to lock up Byfield long-term this offseason. Taking nothing away from Byfield — speaking purely from an objective standpoint — he has one good season to leverage right now. Taking last season out of the equation, he only had 33 points (8G, 25A) in his other 99 NHL games. That would be a qualifying offer situation, at best.

Plus, the overall optics for another big contract just aren’t good right now. The team is coming off some painful playoff losses and they already have a lot of money committed to several other guys long-term.

Sure, one could argue that signing him to an eight-year deal now, as painful as it might be against the cap for the next two to three years, will actually save the club money in the back-half of the contract — when he’s actually in his prime.

On paper, Byfield is currently eligible to become an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) in four years. Hence, signing him for eight years would buy down four years of his eventual free agency years.

As true as that all may turn out to be, though, it probably still isn’t enough to push this one over the goal line.

Prediction Time​

We think there will ultimately be happy medium in all of this. We predict Byfield signs for five or six years. With four years left until he hits UFA status, this lets the Kings justify any higher AAV that will come with a deal of this length. From the Byfield side, even with a five-year contract, he would hit UFA status at 26 years old. Agreeing to a six-year deal would still have him sitting at 27, a prime spot to cash in with a max deal.

This type of length should satisfy both sides. It would give Byfield more money and stability over the next five years, and it spreads things out nicely for the Kings. When looking at the expiration of existing deals, this helps prevent things from stacking up on top of each other. In two years, Kopitar and Adrian Kempe expire. In three years, it’s Drew Doughty and Danault. In five years, Kevin Fiala becomes a UFA. And in six years, no major contracts are set to expire. This type of distribution, while not a primary factor in negotiations, is something that comes in handy for teams when planning out their future.

How would the money work?

We’re pegging this deal at a $6M AAV, with a variance of +/- $500k.

One of the challenges here is there aren’t very many strong comparables when looking at other NHL players. Most guys with Byfield’s type of production, draft position, age, etc. either sign a bridge deal coming off their ELC or opt to sign a max deal. However, the latter is more common when their team doesn’t already have a handful of high-priced contracts. This is a rather unique situation.

Circling back to our recent 2024-45 Cap Projection article (linked below), an AAV closer to $6M would be up slightly from the initial number we plugged into our projection. We felt that was only appropriate until we laid out the whole case in this article.


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