Weight: 215 Pounds
Date of birth: August 19, 2002
Hometown: Newmarket, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 1, 1st overall, 2018 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|A Prospect||A Prospect||2 N.A.||
Sudbury Wolves’ stud Quinton Byfield played his Minor Midget AAA hockey for the York Simcoe Express during the 2017-2018 season where he led the league in goals (48), assists (44) and points (92). He led the Express to an OMHA Championship with his 7 goals and 5 assists in 6 games.
The superb year Byfield had led him to being named the OMHA Player of the Year and brought with him a reputation of winning. Along with the Minor Midget title, he has a Minor Bantam and Bantam Championship on his resume. It led to Byfield being the first overall pick at the 2018 OHL Priority Selection. Here’s what OHL Central Scouting had to say:
Quinton is the type of player that doesn’t come around very often. At nearly 6’4” and over 200lbs, he is an intimidating presence on the ice. He has an exceptionally high skill level and can-do things with a puck that not many players his age or size can do. He is very creative with the puck on his stick and isn’t afraid to try and beat any defender. He is very hard to handle in open ice as he is agile on his skates and uses his edges effectively. Quinton has a cannon for a shot and can shoot in mid-stride.
Of course, Byfield would begin the 2018-2019 season in the OHL. He appeared in 62 games for the Wolves and scored 29 goals and 32 assists. He finished third among OHL rookies in goals, assists and points but he was still named the OHL Rookie of the Year and CHL Rookie of the Year as well as being named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team. Byfield would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 and in 5 games scored twice and assisted on another.
This season began with the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup for Byfield. He scored three times and assisted on two others, but it was a disappointment for the Canadian squad who skated away with a silver medal.
Everyone in the hockey world expected a big season from Byfield with maybe a chance at taking a run at the first overall pick with Alexis Lafreniere. Time away from the Wolves to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships and injuries prevented Byfield from playing a full season (coronavirus aside). However, he was still able to score 32 goals and 50 assists and finish among the draft eligible statistical leaders despite playing in just 45 games.
Now, about that World Junior Championships, too many people are making a big deal about his performance, or lack of productivity (1 assist in 7 games) from Byfield. No one should put too much emphasis on just one tournament and look at the complete body of work. For Team Canada, it wasn’t about the 2020 Championships, but rather the experience and preparation for 2021 should he be available to them. It’s the same approach they took with Lafreniere two years ago and it certainly paid dividends for the National Team.
Byfield isn’t without warts. But one has to remember that with an August birthdate, he is one of the younger players eligible for the draft. In fact, if he was born 17 days later, he wouldn’t be eligible until the 2021 draft. It’s all about finetuning certain parts of his game.
When you watch Byfield, several things stand out. First, is his size. He has a man’s body already – an NHL body. If that doesn’t wow you, then the skating will. He has superb speed despite lugging around his big frame – one wouldn’t think that he possesses such a tremendous separation gear. He’s a force on his skates and almost impossible to knock off the puck. His edgework is elite, able to pivot, turn, start and stop with relative ease.
Also impressive is Byfield’s puck protection and possession skills. He uses his body and reach to keep the puck away from defenders while maintaining possession. Once he has the puck on his stick, it’s like it is attached to a string and the only way it’s coming off is if he passes it or takes a shot.
Byfield’s vision and hockey IQ are also elite. He has the uncanny ability to draw in a defender or two, assess the situation in the blink of an eye and then set up a teammate for scoring opportunities. Rarely do you see him make the wrong decision. He can also beat goaltenders with an elite, NHL ready shot that is overpowering.
I don’t categorize Byfield as a generational talent in the ilk of a Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby. However, he is the type of player that you can build around and be your number one center. How good he can be will be dependant on how he develops parts of his game as he matures.
I had the opportunity to talk to Brock Otten, founder of OHL Prospects, and a contributor to McKeen’s Hockey. Brock is truly one of the most knowledgeable people out there and his knowledge goes beyond the Ontario Hockey League. And his Twitter is a wealth of information. I urge you to follow his work as you won’t be disappointed. Not only did Brock give his thoughts on Byfield, but other draft eligible players.
Have a listen: