Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Quinton Byfield.
The first overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Draft, Quinton Byfield has lived up to the hype for the Sudbury Wolves. In his rookie season, he scored 29 goals and 32 assists for 61 points in 64 games. It was enough to earn him both the OHL and CHL Rookie of the Year Awards. He added eight points in eight playoff games. In the summer, he joined Team Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, scoring eight points in eight games and winning a silver medal.
This season, Byfield has been even better. He put up 32 goals and 50 assists for 82 points in 45 games played. He also made Team Canada for the World Junior Championships, and while he only had one assist in the tournament, he helped the team to a gold medal.
Quinton Byfield Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born August 19th, 2002 — Newmarket, Ontario
Height 6’4″ — Weight 215 lbs [193 cm / 98 kg]
Byfield has everything that teams want in a prospect. The big centre (already 6-foot-4 and still growing) is a tremendous skater. He moves extremely well, not just for a big man, but compared to all players. His speed and acceleration help Byfield to create in the transition game as well as to get back defensively and play a 200-foot game. He also has very good agility and edgework, making him dangerous in one-on-one situations. Byfield is strong on the puck, he can fight through checks and get to the dirty areas of the ice. He is also able to use his size and strength to win battles along the boards as well as to establish his position in front of the net.
Byfield also has the hands to make moves with the puck while travelling at that top speed. This makes him extremely dangerous in the transition game. Byfield can be a goal scorer, with an excellent wrist shot, quick release and a very good one-timer. He also has the soft hands to finish in close to the net. He understands how to get open and find space without the puck. Byfield is very good at give-and-go style plays.
Byfield is also an excellent playmaker. He has the vision and hockey IQ to anticipate where his linemates will be and to set them up for scoring chances. He is capable of controlling the puck and quarterbacking the play on the power play. Byfield uses his size to protect the puck and extend plays. He can also play a physical game, getting in quickly on the forecheck and forcing turnovers which he quickly turns into scoring chances. Byfield is not afraid to battle in front of the net and to fight for loose pucks in the corners. His size and strength are impressive, even when facing opponents who are up to three years older.
Byfield is also already well-developed in his own end of the ice, playing a strong defensive game. He uses his size and his long stick to cut down on passing lanes and create turnovers. He also uses his physical size and strength to support the defence down low, helping to cut out the opponent’s cycle game. Byfield is a smart player. He is strong positionally and provides effective backpressure when defending against the rush. He is good in the face-off circle as well.
Projection and Comparison
Byfield has the size and power that makes NHL general managers drool. He combines that with high-end hockey IQ and an extremely high skill level. Byfield has the potential to be a franchise defining centre at the next level. He seems to be NHL ready and should be in competing for a spot in his new team’s training camp next season. However, it may take a year or two before he is ready to be a first-line centre. His game resembles that of Pittsburgh Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Quinton Byfield that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Quinton Byfield Main Photo:
ST. CATHARINES, ON – OCTOBER 4: Quinton Byfield #55 of the Sudbury Wolves skates during an OHL game against the Niagara IceDogs at Meridian Centre on October 4, 2018, in St. Catharines, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)