Prospects News & Rumors: Byfield, Bedard & Hockey East

Los Angeles Kings’ prospect Quinton Byfield is making his case for an NHL debut as he continues to excel for the Ontario Reign in the American Hockey League. 15-year old forward and exceptional status grantee Connor Bedard has gotten off to a hot start to his young WHL career with eight points in four games played. For the first time in history, the Hockey East Championship game will feature the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Byfield Making Bid For NHL Debut

Kings’ prospect Byfield is enjoying life with the Reign in the AHL. He has points in each of his last three games and goals in back-to-back games. His goals were his first power play and shorthanded goals on his young professional career. Byfield is one of several rookies playing a key role in the Reign lineup, a list that includes; Arthur Kaliyev, Samuel Fagemo, Akil Thomas, Aidan Dudas, Alex Turcotte, and Tyler Madden, among others.

THW’s Zackary Weiner broke down why Byfield was the perfect fit for the Kings’ organization after he was drafted last October.

Although the Kings don’t need another center, Byfield shouldn’t be considered a waste of a pick positionally. There is no doubt that Kopitar is going to move on from Los Angeles eventually, so the team is going to need a true number one center to take his place. Although the Kings have lots of center prospects, none have the abilities that Byfield does. In other words, the Kings have a lot of pretty good, but no one that would be able to seamlessly take over for Kopitar. Byfield could be that guy. This is really important for LA’s transition from the rebuilding Kings to the Stanley Cup playoff Kings. The team revolves around Kopitar, and he is the clear leader of the squad. The transition to being a more competitive team will go that much more smoothly with Byfield being able to take the reins.

Byfield has three goals and seven assists in 17 games played this season. Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sudbury Wolves. He amassed an impressive 32 goals and 50 assists for 82 points in 45 games played. He finished fifth in the league in points per game with 1.82 and led the Wolves in scoring. He represented Canada at both the 2020 and 2021 World Junior Championships winning a gold and silver medal, respectively.

Bedard Off to Exceptional Start to Rookie WHL Season

Bedard has lived up to the hype in his rookie WHL season, recording four goals and four assists for eight points in his first four games played. The North Vancouver native became the first WHL player to be granted exceptional status, and he certainly has proven that it was for a good reason. He’s immediately become the key piece of the Regina Pats offense on a team that missed the playoffs last season, and he’s done so at only 15-years of age.

Fans of junior hockey will be spoiled over the next two years, with two players granted exceptional status vying for the top spots in the 2022 and 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Shane Wright tore up the OHL as a 15-year old last season with 39 goals and 27 assists for 66 points in 58 games played. Bedard follows in his footsteps as the likely first overall selection for the 2023 draft. However, it’s not a lock, as Russian phenom Matvei Michkov is making a compelling case to go first overall in 2023.

Bedard started the 2020-21 season on loan in Sweden with HV71 in the J20 Nationell, where he recorded two goals and two assists for four points in four games played. During the 2019-20 season, Bedard amassed 43 goals and 41 assists for 84 points in only 36 games played for West Van Academy Prep in the CSSHL U18.

Hockey East Championship Game Set

The Hockey East Championship game is set, and for the first time in history, the University of Massachusetts Amherst will take on the University of Massachusetts Lowell. It was a comfortable victory for UMass as they dismantled Providence by a final score of 5-2. Junior forward Bobby Trivigno led the way with one goal and two assists, while New York Rangers prospect Zac Jones had one goal and one assist, and Nashville Predators prospect Marc Del Gaizo also had one goal and one assist.

UMass Lowell pulled off an unbelievable comeback after trailing 4-1 to Boston College midway through the third period. They eventually won the game 6-5 in overtime off of a game-winning goal from sophomore forward Matt Brown. Senior defenseman Anthony Baxter led the way with two goals, and Kings’ prospect Andre Lee finished one goal and one assist. Minnesota Wild prospect Matthew Boldy had four assists, and Colorado Avalanche prospect Alex Newhook had two goals and three assists for Boston College in the loss.