Can the Kings get Quinton Byfield going?
The Los Angeles Kings need their recent No. 2 overall pick to make an impact, some thoughts on Devon Toews in Colorado, and some quick thoughts on that ESPN list everybody is talking about.
Happy Tuesday. Here is what is ahead today.
Continuing my NHL 15 series with a look at Los Angeles Kings forward Quinton Byfield.
Quick thoughts on Devon Toews new contract.
That ESPN list.
The Kings need Quinton Byfield to take a big step
Continuing my look at 15 of the most fascinating and interesting players in the NHL this season with a look at Los Angeles Kings forward Quinton Byfield.
A couple of weeks ago I took a detailed look at recent No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere and how important it is for the New York Rangers that he become a star.
You can pretty much take every word of that article and apply the same thing to the player that went No. 2 in that same draft class — Los Angeles Kings forward Quinton Byfield.
It has been more than a decade since the NHL has had a draft class where the top-two picks produced as little as these two have through the first three full years of their careers. You have to go back to the 2012 class that saw Nail Yakupov and Ryan Murray go Nos. 1 and 2 to find a more underwhelming duo at the top. And while I am still a believer that Lafreniere and Byfield will ultimately end up being much better than the Yakupov-Murray duo, we are reaching a point with both of them where it has to start happening sooner rather than later.
That is especially true with Byfield who has shown even less than Lafreniere at this point in his development.
Entering play on Tuesday he has appeared in 101 regular season games, scoring only nine goals to go with 25 assists. There was a major injury problem (fractured ankle) that slowed down his development, while he has also spent some time in the minors and played on a team that has been rapidly adding veteran forwards into the mix as it tries to contend.
But for as underwhelming as his development has been to this point, I do think there are some signs that he might have a chance to start showing more and potentially even have a breakout year for the Kings.
That mainly revolves around the fact the Kings seemed to have found something late last season by placing him on a line with veterans Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe. When that trio was on the ice it was the Kings’ most dominant line, and it seemed to really help get Byfield going a little and help him make some more contributions. That trio played 474 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey together in the regular season a year ago and was completely dominant. They outscored teams 31-11 and had a better than 53 percent share of total shot attempts, expected goals, scoring chances and high-danger scoring chances.
That territorial edge and overall dominance did not necessarily translate into points or production for Byfield, he did start to see his numbers go up in the playoffs when he recorded four points in six games against the Edmonton Oilers.
That line is still together so far this season, and in two games Byfield has been more noticeable and a bigger part of the Kings offense than he has been at any point over the previous three years. He scored a goal in their season-opening loss to Colorado, and in two games has already recorded six shots on goal and 16 total shot attempts.
There is no reason that he can’t still be a top-line player in the league. He is a scouts dream when it comes to blending size and skill, and I love the fact he is getting an opportunity to play big minutes next to talented players. I also love the fact he is seemingly taking on a shoot-first mentality and is getting pucks at the net.
Just like with the Rangers and Lafreniere, the Kings need their young players to become major factors if they are ever going to take the next step from “playoff team” to “legitimate Stanley Cup contender.”
Both team’s rebuilds have been driven by veteran additions, and while the Kings have hit home runs with a lot of their moves, their once-highly praised farm system has not produced a ton of big-time results. At least when compared to what we expected from them a couple of years ago when it looked to be completely loaded.
You can not miss on top-two picks when you get them. The Kings have put Byfield into a position to succeed this season and it is time to start seeing some significant progress.
Avalanche get another steal with Devon Toews
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