LA Kings’ second-overall pick from 2020, Quinton Byfield, is in Arizona with his team this weekend, ready to get Rookie Camp underway.
It’s been a long, but eventful, summer. Nevertheless, the LA Kings are back and ready to go. Okay, the entire team is not back, but the rookies definitely are as the 2021 Rookie Faceoff kicks off in Arizona on Friday. One of the most notable attendees for the LA Kings is the club’s first-round pick from 2020, Quinton Byfield.
After getting his feet wet for a brief stint in the NHL last year, Byfield is in the desert this weekend with a determination to leave his mark. Not only does he want to crack the big club’s opening-night roster, but the Newmarket, Ont., native wants to stay in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future. But, the youngster knows where he stands, even though his six-game stint with the Kings late last season helped him further prepare for the big leagues.
“Yeah, I think there’s a lot of development still to take place,” Byfield admitted during the Kings media call on Thursday. “Through the summer, I just kind of just thought about those games and just wanted to take as much as I could from those games and see where I was at and see what I had to train for this summer.”
While getting that first call-up to the NHL is exhilarating for any player, Byfield knows to take the transition in stride, given how significant the passage, if you will, to the senior league is.
“You know, there’s a lot: the pace is a lot faster– every level you go to, the pace a little bit faster,” the 19-year-old observed. “Guys are a bit stronger, as well, so every jump, you’ve got to be ready for that, and that’s something I was expecting, and it delivered while I was up. So, putting on a little bit more weight, working on my footwork, just stuff like that I did this summer. Even in the [faceoff] dots, guys are a lot quicker with their hands in the faceoffs and just different styles of use. So, you’ve got to take that into account as well.”
While his NHL career has been brief, Byfield is a bit more seasoned in the AHL, spending much of last year with the Ontario Reign. Nevertheless, the big man enters 2021-22 with more experience and, in turn, will take on more of a leadership role this weekend — something the coaching staff can feel good about.
“Just as a whole, they told us, the returning players, to take on more of a leadership role and show, you know, it’s weird for me to say, but show the younger guys a little bit more of pro hockey and what it takes to be at this level,” Byfield explained. “I’m excited for that challenge to go out there and play hockey, and so I’m excited for everything here.
“[The coaches know] they can lean on you a little bit more, and vice-versa, as well. You can go up and talk to them; you’re more comfortable in that setting, then even just in the locker room, as well. Just with all the guys — connecting, reconnecting with all those guys — then, just be able to get to know the other guys as well. So, I think it’s just more of a comfortable environment coming in this year just knowing everyone from last year.”
While just being back with his team may be exciting enough, there’s an extra something that’s getting Byfield’s proverbial motor running entering Rookie Camp.
“We have a lot of returning players and a lot of guys who played pro hockey, and a lot of young guys here, high [draft] picks,” he noted. “Great players with great talent and even the camp invites. I think they showed great promise out there when I was watching, so I’m excited to get on the ice with them. I think we have a really good team to go out there and probably come home with a couple of wins, and I think that’s the main goal here.”
While he did have a good summer overall, Byfield did suffer a minor setback by injuring his foot. There is no need to panic, though, as the former Sudbury Wolf is at full health.
“I just came out and tried it, tested it, see if I could do the Dev Camp, but I think it was just best if I held off for a little bit more and got back to 100% for this: for rookie camp and training camp coming up,” a determined Byfield noted. “I did some rehab with the Kings, and you know, they take great care of us here and back at 100%, ready to go.”
He is just one of the many exciting figures to keep an eye out for at this weekend’s Rookie Faceoff — not to mention at next week’s Training Camp, as well. So, let us see what Quinton Byfield has in store over the next few days, and the impression he leaves on the LA Kings.
You can bet that it will be exciting to watch.