NHL Prospect Profile: Quinton Byfield
– Quinton Byfield –
Sudbury Wolves (OHL) | Centre | 2020 NHL Draft Eligible
Newmarket, Ontario | Aug. 19th, 2002 | 6-foot-4, 215-pounds
Quinton Byfield has long been destined to become a star player at the NHL-level, as the native of Newmarket, Ontario has displayed virtually zero holes in his game while continuing to improve his broad skill-set at a rapid pace. A former standout with the York Simcoe Express of the ETA, Byfield buried 38 goals and 92 points in 34 regular season games ahead of the 2018 OHL Draft — an event during which Byfield heard his name called with the first overall selection.
Since ascending to the OHL-level, Byfield has become a dominant force for the Sudbury Wolves. In fact, in his rookie season of 2018-19, Byfield became a driving force within the Wolves’ offence as well as a responsible two-way centre to boot. In the attacking zone, Byfield collected 29 goals and 61 points en route to the Emms Family Award as the OHL’s Rookie of the Year. Further, in his defensive end, Byfield routinely used his towering frame to dispossess opposing forwards while also enjoying significant time on the penalty kill too.
In short, there are many reasons why Byfield was chosen first overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, and a great many reasons more as to why he will be seriously considered by the NHL franchise who holds the first overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft.
- Skating Speed and Strength
- Shot Strength, Release, and Accuracy
- Innate Physicality
- On-Ice Vision
- Special Teams Abilities
As mentioned above, the true strength of Byfield’s game lies in his well-rounded skill set and versatility on the ice. As a tremendous skater known for his smooth stride and incredible acceleration, Byfield can create separation between himself and the fastest of opponents and features the agility necessary to change direction without losing his momentum. This foundational skill allows Byfield to protect the puck with ease when combined with his size — a mixture which makes Byfield virtually unstoppable once he hits full speed.
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Having rushed into the opposing zone and created time and space for himself, Byfield stands as a versatile and unpredictable offensive threat. Owing to the strength of his shot and its lightning-quick release, Byfield can pound the puck on goal in the blink-of-an-eye and is remarkably consistent in his accuracy. Even if unable to beat an opposing goaltender cleanly, Byfield’s heavy shot can generate a slew of rebounds for his teammates to pounce upon. Further, there are Byfield’s playmaking abilities — his on-ice vision and creativity stand at an elite level and make him unpredictable given the fact that opposing defenders must respect both his ability to pass the puck as well as shoot it.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 7, 2019
Perhaps the most impressive facet of Byfield’s game is his ability to play in all situations with relative ease. As a rookie in Sudbury, Byfield routinely killed penalties as well as saw time on the Wolves’ top power play unit and was remarkably effective in doing so. Actively being coached to become a well-rounded and capable player in al three zones of the ice, Byfield’s on-ice maturity in addition to his intimidating size will make him a wildly attractive prospect ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.
- Physical Play
Given his towering 6-foot-4 and 215-pound frame, it may come as somewhat of a surprise to see “physical play” listed as Byfield’s area for improvement. However, while Byfeild certainly uses his size well when it comes to protecting the puck, he would do well to use his incredible strength on a more frequent basis on the defensive side of the puck. Quick to use his stick to poke the puck free — a tactic which works quite well, mind you — Byfield would benefit if willing to throw his weight around on a more frequent basis.
“He can control a game now, at 16, at both ends.”
— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) March 25, 2019
Once he reaches the NHL-level in a few years’ time, Byfield will need to rely on his size on a consistent basis in addition to his elite-level skill set if he wishes to enjoy persistent success. So, why not begin to play and perfect an NHL-style of hockey at the OHL-level — doing so will surely allow Byfield to enjoy a much smoother transition to hockey’s highest level.
Once he reaches the NHL-level and is a few seasons into his career, Byfield will stand eerily reminiscent to a smooth-skating version of Evgeni Malkin. Blessed with incredible size and strength, Byfield will likely come to be referred to as the next generation’s power-forward — a player known for his size but one who also features soft hands, on-ice versatility, and the confidence necessary to thrive regardless of the situation of pressure placed upon him.
So, although Alexis Lafrenière of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic will receive considerable consideration by the franchise which holds the first overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, so too will Byfield. And, given Byfield’s significant growth as a player this past season, it appears as though the choice between Lafrenière and Byfield on draft day will be much more difficult than originally thought.