LA Kings

Quinton Byfield has arrived. Over the past few months, a star has begun to form in the former second-overall pick for the LA Kings. And he’s just getting started.

With another tough beginning to the season for Byfield, one which found him in the AHL for a few weeks in what many believed was a conditioning stint due to an ‘illness’, the 20-year-old has firmly planted himself as an NHL regular.

After being recalled on December 27, the first two games back in the lineup were a rough go for Byfield. He played the fourth-line center role for the LA Kings, not seeing more than nine minutes on the ice. It wasn’t until December 31 when a surprising move to the left-wing position on the first line alongside all-stars Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe that he started to flourish.

First line winger

Since December 31, Byfield’s first game on the top line, he’s been a totally different player. He’s playing with confidence and noted aggression that can be felt with each rumble along the boards winning loose puck after loose puck. And the point production has ramped up as well.

In the 32 games for Quinton since the first-line placement, he’s secured 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) and is a +11. A vast improvement in production from the prior 56 games of his career when he managed only 14 points. LA Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan talked about what he’s seeing this year compared to seasons past from Byfield after Monday night’s 8-2 win over Calgary.

“I think he reads and anticipates where the play is going. He’s got really quick feet, he’s got a long, long reach, and that extension of his stick allows him to close ice down quickly. When he gets there, he’s got a pretty good tenacity and I think he’s on his feet so much more this year than he was in the past. It means he’s getting stronger, he stays in those battles, he comes out of those battles. Just a young man that’s maturing.”

The Distributor

It makes sense for Byfield to look to distribute when on the ice with a future hall-of-famer and an established goal scorer. Even though some may want him to shoot more, the assists and more importantly the wins are more than ok.

During 5v5 play since December 31, Byfield ranks fifth in the NHL in assists per 60 minutes with 2.2 among players with at least 200 minutes played, according to Natural Stat Trick. Just ahead of superstars Nathan MacKinnon (2.19) and Sidney Crosby (2.19). And Kopitar and Kempe are reaping the benefits.

Prior to Quinton Byfield joining them on the LA Kings’ top line, Kopitar scored at a rate of 0.65 goals per 60 minutes during 5v5 (8th on the team) and Kempe at a rate of 0.93 (4th on the team). Now with Byfield on the left side, Kopitar has seen his 5v5 scoring rate improve to 1.32 goals per 60 minutes (2nd on the team) and Kempe to 1.53 (1st on the team).

The trio is one of the best lines in the NHL since their inception, outscoring their opponents 26-9 when on the ice. That 74.3% goal share is good enough for second among lines with at least 200 minutes played together, according to

It remains to be seen if the wing position will be a permanent spot for Byfield. But for now, the LA Kings now have a high-powered first line and one that will be heavily leaned upon come playoff time.

6 thoughts on “LA Kings: A star is emerging in Quinton Byfield

  1. Thanks for another great article, Russell! Perhaps Anze signs a 2 year extension after next season and if so, Byfield stays with him that long, before switching back to centerman. Never thought Kings would be a Cup contender until next season with upgrades to goalie & LHD but Blake fooled me by obtaining Korposalo & Gavrikov at deadline. Kudos to Blake for Danault, Arvidsson, Fiala & now the 2 from Jackets. Kudos to TMac for navigating the team theough the challenging first 1/3 of the season with expertise. Some similarities of the 2011-2012 season this season…

    1. hold off on future years for Kopi. He may not want to play. He may get old. Who would have predicted that we would trade Quick? And we’ll need Kopi’s salary slot for Vilardi, etc.

      1. He is old and has never been fast so losing a step and slotting in at 3rd center won’t be an issue. Good thing his extension won’t be at $10 million per year. Maybe 2 years at $5 million AAV? He’s already got his Cups, his $100 million in the bank and house on the beach. Now all he wants are more cups.

      2. Kopi will be back for at least a couple more years. I’d say 2-5 more years from him. It would be good for QB to stay up there for a couple more years. Depending on how long Kopitar plans on playing. I’d say on Kopitar’s last year move QB to 3C. Who knows, he may never play center again. I guess that would depend on who the King’s have at the time. Kupari is starting to come in to his own also. He’ll be a beast very soon.

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