One of Dean Lombardi’s most impactful picks came in the form of Drew Doughty at second overall. Twelve years later, the Kings would benefit if the lottery provided the same courtesy.
According to Tankathon, Los Angeles has a 9.6% chance of winning this position. While it seems unlikely, remember that New York won the Kaapo Kakko sweepstakes with less than half the odds only a year ago.
We recently previewed the likely pick if Rob Blake were to win the lottery here. This next prospect has made a strong case for second overall.
Date of Birth: August 19, 2002
Weight: 214 lbs
Byfield played with the Sudbury Wolves in the OHL for the entirety of his 2019-20 season. He accumulated 82 points (32 G, 50 A) in 45 games.
Like Lafreniere, the native of Newmarket, Ontario won the World Junior Championship for Team Canada. As a gentle reminder, Kings prospects Akil Thomas and Aidan Dudas also won gold alongside them, with the former scoring the game winner. While playing alongside each other for the WJC and head-to-head in the OHL, Byfield and Thomas seem to have a genuine bond and mutual respect.
I’m sure this is Pie in the Sky thinking but look at how happy Akil Thomas and Quinton Byfield look so happy together wouldn’t that be something if they were future teammates! pic.twitter.com/lBprYlZ36s
— Caitlin Peters (@csp2013) January 5, 2020
We’ve talked about what a fascinating prospect the Kings have in Thomas. In one of our interviews with him, he mentioned making a couple of podcasts. In one such episode of Soul on Ice, Byfield was a guest. The Niagara and Sudbury centers engaged in friendly ribbing.
As Byfield has spent his OHL career so far with the Wolves, there are a few Kings who used to call Sudbury home: Derek Armstrong, Ethan Moreau, Glen Murray, Sean O’Donnell.
Rankings by Independent Scouting Services
The Draft Analyst, Second. “Byfield combines obvious physical strengths with elite hockey sense, anticipation and scoring ability. He is as much a danger in tight spaces as he is in open ice, and he possesses a long, powerful stride that allows him to accelerate to top speed and create distinct separation from chasing opponents. Byfield is incredibly agile for his size, and he can evade pressure or create space without solely relying on his thick frame and long reach. Much like current NHL star Auston Matthews, Byfield can dictate the flow of a possession from the boards or behind the net, and linemates at every level seem to understand that it’s his job to facilitate playmaking off the cycle. Byfield, however, is exceptionally crafty with the puck, and goalies have to respect his powerful shot that he wires with pinpoint accuracy from anywhere inside the offensive zone. On the power play, Byfield threads the needle with crisp cross-ice or cross-seam passes, but he has very soft hands that allow him to saucer feeds over congestion on either his forehand or backhand. His booming shot makes him a potential option at the point, but his elite hand-eye coordination make his accurate one-timer from the circles a deadlier option.”
Future Considerations, Second. In their final rankings, they focused on Byfield’s combination of speed, skill, and size.
Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects, First. Robinson pointed out while Alexis Lafreniere is the better player now, he felt Byfield has a higher upside.
Quinton Byfield – 1st Overall
"A physical specimen who blends power to a speed-driven, skill game. Quick hands allow maneuvering in tight spaces. Improved balance and added snarl will only further extend his dominance. His upside is that of a unicorn – as unique as they come." pic.twitter.com/7FtA3sEwqm
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) May 28, 2020
See For Yourself
While highlights don’t paint a complete picture, this gives a good snippet of some talent Byfield displayed during the 2019-20 season.
He’s 17 years old until August, and he stands at 6’4, skates like the wind, and possesses the skillset to rank sixth in the OHL in points-per-game. In short, Byfield has it all.
The fascinating notion about Byfield is he still has a lot of room to grow, yet he is not exactly a project. Scouts have compared him to Evgeni Malkin (who was also drafted second overall), though Byfield may not have the same mean streak.
While Los Angeles has an embarrassment of riches down the middle, Byfield is still such a supreme player who can cover so much of the ice. Any organization fortunate enough to have him available would have no choice but to make room and give him the tools to grow and succeed.
NOTE: David Hofreiter was the lead contributor in the gathering of information used in this article. You can find him on Twitter @Davidenkness to talk more hockey.