Today is a good day for the 2020 NHL draft class as one member is getting set to make his league debut with Los Angeles Kings, and another signed his first professional contract with the Colorado Avalanche. Speaking of drafts, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) released the details of their upcoming Priority Selection.
Quinton Byfield Set to Make NHL Debut
While nothing has been made official by the team or coaching staff, all signs certainly point towards Byfield taking the ice for the Kings tonight. He has been centering a line in practice between Trevor Moore and Adrian Kempe, and it appears that he will draw in for tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
“I think we all know what he can bring,” Kings forward Dustin Brown said about Byfield. “He seems to be doing very well at the AHL level, so hopefully he gets in a game here and I think there’s just a lot of excitement around him.”
Byfield got off to a slow start in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Ontario Reign. Once he made the adjustments needed from transitioning from juniors to the pro ranks, he picked things up. He has eight and 20 points in 30 AHL games this season before being called up to the Kings.
Los Angeles selected Byfield with the second overall pick of the most recent NHL draft. When he makes his debut, he will be the fourth member of the 2020 class to play in the NHL this season. Alexis Lafreniere (first overall) and Time Stutzle (third overall) have played the entire season. Lafreniere has 10 goals and 18 points in 50 games for the New York Rangers, and Stutzle has eight goals and 25 points in 46 games for the Ottawa Senators.
Jamie Drysdale is the other member of the most recent draft class to make his NHL debut this season. The young defenseman will be on the ice for the Ducks tonight as he has played in every game since March 18. The sixth overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft has three goals and six points through the first 18 games of his NHL career.
Justin Barron Signs First Pro Contract
The Avalanche have officially inked Barron to a three-year, entry-level contract. This deal will go into effect at the start of the 2021-22 season, so he has signed an amateur tryout contract (ATO) with the Colorado Eagles to finish out this season in the AHL.
Colorado drafted the young two-way defenseman with the 25th overall pick last October. He just finished his final season of junior hockey, serving as captain of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior League (QMJHL). He had eight goals, 31 points, and a remarkable plus-40 rating in 33 games this season.
Barron missed a big chunk of the 2019-20 season due to blood clots but still led all Mooseheads defensemen in scoring. He finished his QMJHL career with 23 goals and 112 points in 186. He will now look to work his way into an exciting and young defensive corps in Colorado that already features Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Ryan Graves, and Bowen Byram.
OHL to Hold First-Ever Draft Lottery
The OHL has been on the ice since March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From league officials to the fans, everyone involved is looking forward to a fresh start with the 2021-22 season. The league announced its plan for the 2021 Priority Selection with some new twists to the procedures since there was no 2020-21 season.
For the first time in OHL history, a draft lottery will select who gets the first overall pick. All teams who have a first-round pick will have an equal chance at selecting number one. After that, the order of selection to be determined by a computerized random number generator lottery process to be overseen by a legal firm. Usually, the draft order is based on the reverse order of the overall regular-season standings beginning with non-playoff teams.
Another new feature of this year’s draft is the use of a “serpentine” or “snake” arrangement, which should be familiar to fantasy sports players. This means the teams will pick in reverse order in Round 2 and alternate throughout the entire 15-round draft. Also, for the first time in league history, the Priority Selection will take place over two days, with Round 1-3 on June 4 and the final 12 rounds taking place on June 15.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.