Vegas Golden Knights prospect Lukas Cormier sits atop the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League scoring chart among defensemen. Los Angeles Kings prospect Quinton Byfield has adjusted to life in the American Hockey League and leads the Ontario Reign in scoring. The Buffalo Sabres have signed a former seventh-round pick to an entry-level contract after an impressive season in the NCAA.
Cormier Paces QMJHL Defenseman in Scoring
Golden Knights prospect Lukas Cormier continues to pace all QMJHL defensemen in scoring by a wide margin. The Charlottetown Islanders d-man is having a great start to his third season in the league. Through 33 games, he has 14 goals and 33 assists for 47 points, which leads the league in both assists and points by a defenseman. He also ranks third in goals, trailing Nathan Larose, who has 17. He has points in 11 of his last 12 games, and in that span, has amassed an impressive three goals and 12 assists for 15 points.
In October I took a look at how Cormier would fit into the Golden Knights‘ organization after being selected in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
After losing top prospect Erik Brannstrom in the trade that brought Mark Stone to Vegas, the Golden Knights needed to replenish their defensive prospect pool. Adding QMJHL defenseman Lukas Cormier is exactly the type of move they need to make. He slid a bit, likely due to his size, but he’s a supremely talented skater and will look very nice on a blue line with Shea Theodore. There were some scouts that had him in their first or second round, so this is a tremendous value for the Golden Knights in the third round. They grabbed a sniper in Brendan Brisson in the first round, and adding a mobile puck-moving defenseman complements that perfectly here in day two.
Drafted 68th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Cormier spent the 2019-20 season with the Islanders in the QMJHL, where he recorded six goals and 30 assists in 44 games played. He was named to the CHL Top Prospects Game and won a Hlinka Gretzky Cup silver medal with Canada.
Byfield Continues Impressive AHL Form
Kings prospect Quinton Byfield is enjoying life with the Reign in the AHL. He has points in nine of his last ten games with six goals and five assists. It’s a big shift in production from the one goal and six assists he had in his first 14 games this season. He co-leads the Reign in scoring with fellow rookie Arthur Kaliyev, and he is one of several rookies playing a key role in the lineup, including 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.
Selected second overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sudbury Wolves, where he amassed an impressive 32 goals and 50 assists in 45 games to lead the team. He also finished fifth in the league in points-per-game average with 1.82. He represented Canada at both the 2020 and 2021 World Junior Championships winning a gold and silver medal, respectively.
Sabres Sign Linus Weissbach
The Sabres have announced that they’ve agreed to a standard three-year, entry-level contract with forward Linus Weissbach. Drafted 192nd overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the 2019-20 season as a junior at the University of Wisconsin, where he amassed four goals and 18 assists in 35 games played. During his senior season, he posted career-highs in goals, assists and points with 12 goals, 29 assists and 41 points in 31 games. He was named to the NCAA B1G Ten Second All-Star Team and was a B1G Ten regular-season champion with Wisconsin.
The 22-year old Swedish forward will likely start with the Rochester Americans in the AHL, but with the Sabres desperate for scoring talent and Taylor Hall likely on his way out, we could see Weissbach get a shot at NHL action sooner rather than later.