Prospects News & Rumors: Byfield, Raymond & Hockey Canada

The National Hockey League wanted to create interest with the 2020 Draft Lottery and they sure accomplished that. We still have wait until the Qualifying Round of the Stanley Cup playoffs concludes to know who gets to make the first overall selection, but that didn’t stop one of the top prospects from sharing his thoughts about a possible landing spot. Also, the Canadian national program is using technology to develop the next wave of future stars.

Byfield Comments on the Draft Lottery

While we still don’t know who is going to have the first overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and select Alexis Lafreniere, we have a better idea of where some of the other top tier prospects may end up. One of those players is center Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

Byfield is ranked in the top four of nearly every pre-draft scouting list and could go as high as number two the Los Angeles Kings. The debate of who will go second overall is between him and Tim Stützle, another center out of Germany. However, the Kings have used their last three first-round picks on centers with Alex Turcotte (2019), Rasmus Kupari (2018) and Gabe Vilardi (2017).

Sudbury Wolves Quinton Byfield
Byfield has the makings of being a special NHL player. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/CHL)

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet asked Kings’ general manager Rob Blake if the fact that both of these talented players are centers would prevent him from drafting one of the.

“No,” he revealed. “You mention those three, we’ll take four centers like that.”

Speaking of Sportsnet, Byfield recently spoke with David Amber and he talked about the possibility of playing for the Kings or the Ottawa Senators, who own the third pick overall.

“Just being up there and being in the conversation for those picks is definitely really nice. I am a little more comfortable to see where I am going now. Both of those teams are great. Both of those teams would be great to go to. If I can make my mark on one of those teams, it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun.”

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Byfield has a rare combination of size and speed which he has used to dominate the OHL. Over the past two seasons, he has 61 goals and 143 points in 109 games. His performance at the World Junior Championship may have hurt his stock at the time, but he is expected to be drafted within the top four. He has franchise-altering talent and plays a 200-foot game, so whichever team ends up with Byfield, they are going to have a special player in their system.

Hockey Canada Gets Creative

The 2020 draft class has been getting a ton of attention these past few days, but some future top prospects are preparing for whenever their next season might begin. Hockey Canada has usually hosted their annual development camp in late July and invited prospects to come and participate in a week of training, both on and off the ice.

Living in the COVID-19 world has made this type of camp impossible to hold right now, so they are using technology to get creative. Hockey Canada has invited 113 players to be part of its under-17 virtual development camp, which will take place July 19-25.

“The national under-17 development camp is the first stage in introducing these athletes to the Program of Excellence, and it is a great opportunity for them to develop as players and learn what it takes to wear the Maple Leaf,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams with Hockey Canada. “Our three under-17 teams are very fortunate to have these nine experienced coaches, and we know our coaching and support staffs will embrace the opportunity to guide the development of the top young players in Canada.”

A total of 12 goaltenders and 101 skaters (37 defensemen and 64 forwards) will take part in the week-long virtual camp that will be made up of multiple group sessions that will focus on player development through online education. Sure, this isn’t as good as a week at the rink and in the classroom, but abnormal times force you to think outside of the box.

Prospect of the Day – Lucas Raymond

Raymond is one of the highest-rated prospects of the 2020 draft class and should be selected within the top five. The Swedish-born winger is ranked as the second-best European skater by NHL Central Scouting and our own Josh Bell ranks him third overall.

The 18-year-old had four goals and 10 points in 33 games for Frölunda HC of the Swedish Hockey League. While those numbers don’t jump off the page, he held his own and did not seem out of place playing against grown men in Sweden’s top professional as a teenager.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

Raymond’s hockey sense is one of the biggest reasons so many scouts are high on him heading into the draft. He boasts great speed and terrific hands to go along with his smarts. He is a beast to play against as he is constantly forechecking and attacking the puck to force turnovers.

He is an all-around weapon when he has the puck because he can either score with his excellent wrist shot or set up his teammates with his elite playmaking abilities. His value doesn’t stop there because he plays and effective 200-foot game and has been an asset on the penalty kill.

Lucas Raymond Frolunda Indians
Raymond will be an early pick at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (Photo: Tommy Holl TT)

In his THW Draft Prospect Profile, Brandon Share-Cohen believes Raymond will be worth a top-five in this year’s draft.

“Raymond has all the makings of a legitimate top-line player who can contribute in all situations. His ability to play in all three zones at a high level give him a higher floor than most, though the high-end potential is what makes him a good option early in the Draft.”

Fans in Ottawa might want to spend some time getting to know Raymond because he could be targeted for one of their two top-five picks.