A third of the way into the season and the Los Angeles Kings have found themselves in an interesting position. They currently sit in fifth place in the West Division at 12-10-6, just two games behind the St. Louis Blues – A team expected to hold a top seed all season long. With the Blues losing five straight, including two to the Kings, Los Angeles’s hopes of snagging that number four seed before the all-start break look more and more plausible each day. Despite their ten losses, the team has shown it’s more than capable of being a playoff contender. Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Drew Doughty have all looked a decade younger. Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Adrian Kempe have proven they have the young energy it takes to help the team win. And, netminders Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick have been perfecting their dueling goalie routine.
Still, something is missing. The team isn’t exactly where they want to be this close to the end of what they considered a rebuild. How do the Kings make the push into the fourth seed? A trade or a free agent in the off-season? What IS the something that is missing?
It’s not something, it’s someone. It’s Quinton Byfield, and he’s ready to go.
After being drafted second in the 2020 draft, he became one of the most anticipated prospects in the game. Byfield had an amazing first season with Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, he put up 82 points in 45 games. His pace of 1.822 points-per-game last year with the Sudbury Wolves was one of the best U18 seasons in the OHL. The 6’4 center has not only shown his ability with his stick but with his game IQ as well. His skill brings excitement to the organization that reminds many people of Anze Kopitar.
“It’s been a blessing for us. On our L.A. Kings team, we’ve got (Anze) Kopitar, as the No. 1 line center, we’ve got Gabe Vilardi, who again is only 21-years old as a No. 2 center — our center position on the Kings, we’re doing well up top here — so we’re able to kind of have this development process unfold with Quinton and that’s exciting,” said Nelson Emerson to sportsmet.ca – the Kings’ director of player personnel praised Byfield for his coachability.
Emerson praised Byfield’s skating ability, something the Kings could use some help with this season. His stickhandling and plays in the slot are on par with what you see in the NHL. And, he’s quick to adapt to competition and talent level. There’s no doubt he will have an easier time adjusting more than most if he’s brought up the season.
In 16 games with the Ontario Reign, Byfield has 2 goals and 7 assists totaling 9 points. The Reign aren’t exactly where they want to be after having a slow start but it looks like they have found their footing. They have won four straight and look like the organization that is touted to have the best prospects for an NHL team. Certainly, Quinton Byfield is among them. With his hockey knowledge, skill, and young energy, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Byfield up before the all-star break. His ability is exactly what the team needs to keep the team on track to push past the St. Louis Blues. Whenever he does come up, he’s going to be fun to watch.