2020-21 Team: Ontario Reign
Date of Birth: August 19, 2002
Place of Birth: Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
Wt: 215 pounds
Acquired: 2020 NHL Draft #2 overall
Quinton Byfield Bio
Quinton Byfield played his midget hockey with the York Simcoe Express of the ETAHL. He dominated youth hockey, specifically his 15U season; in the 2016-17 season, he put up 47 goals and 61 assists, totaling a whopping 108 points in just 33 games. He didn’t slow down in the 2017-18 season, putting up 48 goals and 44 assists in 34 games.
Byfield was selected first overall at the 2018 OHL Priority Selection by the Sudbury Wolves. He continued to dominate the game at the junior level; he recorded 29 goals and 32 assists in 64 games in his first OHL campaign. In the season prior to his draft, he continued to raise his level of play, putting up an astounding 32 goals and 50 assists in 45 games.
The 2020 World Junior Championship gave Byfield another chance to showcase his skills, but he came out of the seven-game tournament with just one assist to show for it. Though it may have been a disappointing performance for him, he was the youngest player on Canada’s roster. After being selected by the Los Angeles Kings second overall at the 2020 NHL Draft, he returned to the tournament, redeeming himself with seven points in seven games.
Byfield played most of the 2020-21 season with the Ontario Reign — the Kings’ AHL affiliate. He was an inconsistent player throughout the season, scoring one goal in his first 15 games before going on a five-game goal streak and a seven-game point streak. He concluded his first professional season with eight goals and 12 assists in 32 games. He was also called up to play his first six NHL games, putting up one assist.
Byfield is elite in nearly every area of the game; he has incredible power and speed when it comes to his skating, as well as great stickhandling and passing skills. He also possesses a stellar hockey IQ, which makes him a dangerous player when combined with his other assets.
If there is any fault in Byfield’s game, it is a relatively minor one, as he is not known to be excellent in the faceoff circle. This showed in his first NHL games, as he recorded a faceoff win percentage of just 39.39 percent. Faceoffs are always something that can be worked on, though, so this downfall is somewhat inconsequential.
The future for Byfield is clear: he is expected to be the Kings’ number one center. As LA’s current first-line center — Anze Kopitar — becomes less effective, Byfield will need to take on a larger role. Fortunately for Byfield, though, he will still have ample time to develop, as Kopitar shows no signs of slowing down; he just came off a 50-point season in 56 games, recording his 1,000th point as well. Interestingly enough, Byfield and Kopitar have been compared to one another, with both described as players that are the full package.
Byfield also shows a lot of similarities to Evgeni Malkin; both players are powerful centers that carry massive frames. He has recorded over 100 points in three different seasons throughout his career, so it would be good news for Kings fans if Byfield also ends up comparing to Malkin in terms of offensive production.
Where most skaters seek out space; Byfield carries the puck like a power running back in the NFL. Blessed with a 6-foot-4 frame, explosive skating stride, and extremely gifted hands, this is a player who always wants the puck on his stick. A fantastic transporter of the puck, deploying a wide array of rush patterns to adjust to defensive fronts.
Byfield has been as good as you could have hoped for as a 17-year-old in the OHL. He has the best pure toolkit in the draft. He’s 6-foot-4, he’s a very good skater and his hands are right up there with the best in the draft. He can break a shift open with his ability to power past or dangle through defenders. I’ve questioned Byfield’s playmaking in the past, but this season he’s shown a high level of vision. He has the ability to use his power and skill both to create for himself and to make difficult plays to set up his teammates. When the pace increased at the higher levels at the international stage, he faded a bit, but I do think he is very much in the first overall conversation because he has the potential to become an impact No. 1 center in the NHL.
Pronman: Ranking the 2020 NHL Draft top prospects at midseason – The Athletic – Jan. 29, 2020
The confidence level has skyrocketed at this point. That was his best game transporting the puck through the neutral zone. He has been building up to that game, so it’s not like he’s been deficient in that department. That’s the telltale sign of what he was drafted for, is to be able to carry that thing 180 feet, support, make plays off of it. When we first started off with QB, there was a guy who was finding his routes at the pro game, he was finding his timing; the detail things like being a little bit heavier in battles, one hand on the stick in battles, as opposed to when he needed two. All these things still need work, and he is gonna have to keep figuring them out, but the learning curve has gone from a guy that struggled to [produce] points, his plus-minus was down there probably near the worst in the league, and now he’s a dominant player. I loved his game today and I’ve liked it for a while now. He was outstanding. He still needs to work on some things too. He gets into the scoring zones, we talked to him a lot about his needing an assassin’s mentality in the scoring zones. Last night, he passed up two 2-on-1 opportunities and I thought he should have driven both of them or tried to pipe it himself. We’re still working through a couple of things there, but a tremendous young man and couldn’t be happier for him. Craig Johnson deserves a lot of credit too. Quinton has put in the work too, but there’s been a lot of detail work and video sessions helping QB out with his game.
Ontario Reign head coach John Wroblewski on Quinton Byfield’s development (Apr. 25, 2021)
Zackary Weiner is a high school student from New York City who covers the Los Angeles Kings here at The Hockey Writers. He is a lifelong hockey fan and player, and his previous experience includes writing articles about the NHL for various online publications. His articles cover a wide variety of topics that concern the Kings and he takes into account a range of viewpoints, making his articles a perfect read for anyone who wants to stay up to date on the team. Zackary is more than happy to get into a conversation with fellow Kings fans, so feel free to leave a comment below any of his articles like this one to let him know your opinion and what you want to see next. You can also listen to him talk about the team on Fantasy Hockey Life and The Hockey Writers Live.