LA Kings: What Quinton Byfield needs to do post-WJC

LA Kings (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Following up on his seven-point WJC performance, Sirius XM NHL Network Radio offered insight on where LA Kings Quinton Byfield goes from here.

While a seven-game sample generally doesn’t offer much in terms of an NHL prospect’s future, the expectations that come with being a high draft pick can be overbearing. The LA Kings took Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield with the second overall pick last year’s draft, adding another talented forward to the prospect pool.

Byfield was a non-factor at last year’s World Juniors during Team Canada’s gold medal run, but he was also one of the tournament’s youngest players. He was the youngest player on Team Canada in the 2021 World Juniors and is eligible for a third stint next year. While it would seem unlikely that he’ll return, he could seek additional playing time in the 2022 WJC depending on how the upcoming season plays out.

The Newmarket, Ontario native had a slow start to WJC play but exploded for a six-point performance in Canada’s drubbing over Team Switzerland. Byfield picked up three assists to begin the game, followed by two goals just a few minutes apart, and another assist to cap the evening.

Team Canada fell short to the US in this year’s Gold Medal game. As noted, the OHL’s season remains in limbo amid the COVID-19 pandemic. LA Kings general manager Rob Blake made it clear that the team’s top prospects will see a few games at the NHL level this season, but they will not start the clock on their entry-level contract in 2021.

Wherever Byfield ends up for the upcoming season, he needs regular playing time to continue his development. Julie Robenhymer joined Sirius XM NHL Network Radio on Thursday morning to delve into what Byfield needs to do going forward.

“He needs to continue to focus on the process,” said Robenhymer. “He is an outstanding player. If you break down his shift-by-shift, he does a lot of really good things that are subtle. He is more of a skilled player than people give him credit for.”

“A lot of people confuse the draft with how good they are right now with how good they have the potential to be. Is Quinton Byfield, the number two player, like right now available to play for your team, like right now? No. Will he be in 5 years? I think so.”

Byfield projects atop the LA Kings top line one day, currently occupied by Anze Kopitar. Up the middle, the Kings’ prospect pool is arguably the deepest in the NHL. In five years, Los Angeles’ top four lines could be occupied by Byfield, Gabe Vilardi, Alex Turcotte, and Akil Thomas. It’s a good problem to have as the team moves beyond the difficult rebuilding years.