Quinton Byfield – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

The Hockey Writers 2020 NHL Entry Draft Guide

Quinton Byfield

2019-20 Team: Sudbury Wolves
Date of Birth: Aug. 19, 2002
Place of Birth: Newmarket, ON, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 214 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: C
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible

Rankings

After a disappointing showing in 2019, where Thomas Harley was first off the board for the Ontario Hockey League in 2019 being selected 18th overall. The OHL is primed for a rebound year with Quinton Byfield, Marco Rossi, Cole Perfetti and Jamie Drysdale all projected to be taken in the Top 10.

Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide

Once the consensus number two, Byfield has fallen down some rankings since the beginning of the year. Albeit not too far. The Newmarket, Ontario native has a rare blend of size, speed, strength and skill that has punished the OHL over the last two years. The reigning CHL Rookie of the Year has evolved into one of the OHL’s most prolific scorers, only trailing five players in points per game. Last season, he posted 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points in 64 games played. This season, he’s continued to improve, scoring 32 goals and 82 points over 45 games.

Other than a sub-par showing at the World Junior Championship, mostly due to a lack of ice time, he has been the complete package. At 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, he is a true physical specimen and combines NHL level size with elite hockey sense that has tormented his peers in the OHL. An exceptional puck carrier, Byfield uses his hands and size to protect the puck and create separation on the rush.

Sudbury Wolves Quinton Byfield
Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves (Photo by Chris Tanouye/CHL)

For his size he is deceptively agile and possesses speed that you rarely see from a player of his stature. He’s dominant in transitioning the puck from his own zone to the offensive zone and has the playmaking ability to identify the open man and find him with a pinpoint pass. He’s a very creative offensive player with soft hands and a powerful, accurate shot.

Although much of the focus will be on his offensive ability, his play in the defensive zone is by no means lacking. His range and speed allow him to be an effective backchecker, while his quick decision making helps him create turnovers on the forecheck. He’s one of the youngest player in the draft class, which is scary when you think he’s just scratched the surface of his potential.

There are almost no glaring weaknesses to his game. I really don’t like saying this about prospects, but Byfield is a case where he does some things exceptionally well and everything else very well. If I had to pick an area for improvement, he could stand to be a bit more physical off the puck. The term “gentle giant” is a good fit. He uses his size well to protect the puck but tends to shy away from contact. This could change when he puts on weight and adds muscle. He could also stand to improve his consistency in the faceoff dot. He’s won just under 52% of his draws in the OHL.

Other THW Draft Profiles:

Quinton Byfield – NHL Draft Projection

Byfield may have lost his consensus number two title in some circles, however he is still a lock for the top four. A disappointing performance at the WJC potentially hurt his draft stock, but players with the combination of speed, size and skill that he possesses are rare and finding that all at the center position is even more valuable. Tim Stützle and Lucas Raymond have clawed their way into the discussion, but Byfield is a franchise, 200-foot centreman and one of the youngest players in the draft. Pencil him in for the top four.

Quotables

“Byfield has been as good as you could have hoped for as a 17-year-old in the OHL. He has the best pure toolkit in the draft. He’s 6-foot-4, he’s a very good skater and his hands are right up there with the best in the draft. He can break a shift open with his ability to power past or dangle through defenders. I’ve questioned Byfield’s playmaking in the past, but this season he’s shown a high level of vision. He has the ability to use his power and skill both to create for himself and to make difficult plays to set up his teammates. When the pace increased at the higher levels at the international stage, he faded a bit, but I do think he is very much in the first overall conversation because he has the potential to become an impact No. 1 center in the NHL.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from: “Pronman: Ranking the 2020 NHL Draft top prospects at midseason” – The Athletic – Jan. 29, 2020)

“Any concerns about Byfield’s skating or puck skill among scouts have surely faded by now. These days, Byfield’s top speed has progressed to a point where he can make a ton of things happen through the middle of the ice and his hands help him make small area plays that kids his size normally can’t. If I have one outstanding concern with Byfield’s game it’s his defensive play. There are little things like his faceoff ability (he’s 50 percent on draws this season, which normally translates to the mid-to-high 40s at the NHL level) and more pronounced things like his first couple of steps and the way they can contribute to him standing around instead of closing off on opposing players, as well as his tendency to misread plays. Otherwise, it’s all there. He can play with pace, he’s dangerous in tight, he can score from mid-distance with his release, he’s extremely hard to take the puck off and he’s an excellent playmaker for his size, routinely making plays through defenders that some high-skill smaller players even tend to struggle with.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from: “ Wheeler: Midseason ranking for the 2020 NHL Draft’s top 62 prospects ” – The Athletic – Feb. 19, 2020)

Related: Top 10 NHL Goalie Prospects

“Byfield is an obvious physical presence but one who is able to dictate the terms over opponents without playing dirty or undisciplined. He is an effective backchecker and occasionally pressures on the forecheck, but it’s his ability to read plays and get that necessary extra step that helps him create turnovers before quickly transitioning the other way. Byfield is very good on faceoffs (over 52 percent success rate) and is a solid penalty killer who pressures the points. His impressive wingspan and upper-body strength are critical aspects off the puck in that he can shove opponents off balance without overcommitting or finding himself trapped. Keep in mind that he’ll likely continue to grow, which will spell trouble for an NHL that is trending towards smaller players.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

Strengths

  • Hockey IQ
  • Puck Control/Possession
  • Passing and vision
  • Stick Handling
  • Power and Speed

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Physicality
  • Faceoffs

NHL Potential

Franchise, top-line centreman with a refined 200-foot game. He’s been compared to Evgeni Malkin and it’s honestly not a lofty projection to say that he could get to that level. He has the size to play in the NHL right away and should be able to jump right into a team’s top-six down the middle.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 1/5, Reward – 5/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 9.5/10, Defence – 9/10

Awards/Achievements

Byfield’s international accolades with Canada include a silver medal at the 2019 under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament, where he tied for fifth in scoring with five points in five games. He also won gold for Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championship. He finished with one assist in seven games.

His major junior accolades include CHL Rookie of the Year and OHL Rookie of the Year in 2018-19. He posted 61 points in 64 games played for the Sudbury Wolves.

Interviews/Profile Links

Videos

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