After a six-game sample size last year, top prospect Quinton Byfield is looking to grab a roster spot on the LA Kings.
Entering his first training camp under the umbrella of normalcy, LA Kings 2020 second overall pick Quinton Byfield is one of a handful of prospects that could conceivably make the Opening Night roster. Byfield, 19, benefited from the OHL season being canceled last year as he was allowed to play with the Ontario Reign at the AHL level.
The Newmarket, Ontario native was late to Kings’ training camp a year ago as he was prepping for his second stint with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. Now having been around the club for the team’s annual Dev. Camp, followed by the Rookie Faceoff in Arizona, and heading straight into training camp, Byfield has been pleased with the competition in camp after the first three days.
“The pace is super intense,” Byfield said on Saturday. “Everyone is kind of getting back into the game, hungry to play, and everyone wants a spot on the Kings. It was very intense, tight-checking – it was a lot of fun.”
Byfield has been labeled as the league’s top prospect entering the 2021-22 season. He played in 32 games with the Reign last season, tallying eight goals and 20 points. Near the end of the year, Byfield was promoted to the Kings for a six-game cup of coffee – the maximum allowed without starting the clock on his three-year entry-level contract.
And while he registered just one assist during his time at the NHL level, getting that experience gave Byfield a lot to remember over the summer.
“I think those games really taught me a lot, and I had a whole summer to think about those [games],” he admitted. “You know, every level is a little bit stronger, faster, and once you get used to that, you kind of get a little bit more comfortable. I think that’s what kind of happened toward the end of those six games. I definitely feel comfortable at that level.”
Byfield never looked out of place in his brief stint at the NHL. If you recall, Kings players were trying to get the puck on Byfield’s stick in the dying seconds of what eventually became a 3-2 Ducks victory. A lot of work went into getting to that point, though, including significant strides made defensively at the AHL level.
Through his first 18 games with the Reign, Byfield had a -19 rating before righting the ship. And coming into training camp, the former Sudbury Wolves forward quickly identified where his game improved the most compared to junior hockey.
“Definitely the defensive zone. I think that it always takes a bit of time to adjust to new systems and all that. Coming from junior hockey, you didn’t have to play too much D – you just kind of relied on the offense, and both teams just kind of playing of offense. Coming here, you have to play a lot of defensive zone to give your offense a chance,” Byfield concluded.