LA Kings: Quinton Byfield is a left-handed Nathan MacKinnon

(Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

The LA Kings are expected to take Quinton Byfield with the second overall pick in the draft, and he plays with a similar style as Nathan MacKinnon.

Watching Game 1 between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche on Saturday evening, I found myself fixated on Nathan MacKinnon. The number one overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft has been every bit as good as projected for Colorado since entering the league, and he continues to amaze. Throughout the contest, I kept saying man, I wish the LA Kings had a guy like MacKinnon. But in just a couple of short months, they can actually achieve that feat.

With the second overall pick in the draft, the Kings are expected to take Quinton Byfield, who has been planted firmly behind Alexis Lafrenière as the second-best prospect in this draft class. Some argument can be made that Tim Stutzle or Jamie Drysdale should be considered for the pick, but heads will roll if the Kings pass on Byfield.

The 18-year-old has spent the last two seasons for playing for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL, most recently tallying 32 goals with 50 assists for 82 points in a COVID-19 shortened 45 game sample size. He sustained a wrist injury while playing for Team Canada in the World Juniors, but he responded by registering four assists in his first three games back with Sudbury.

At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds, the Newmarket, Ontario native is a physical specimen, who demonstrates excellent skating, vision, puck-handling, and scoring abilities. With (Nathan) MacKinnon four inches shorter than Byfield, the latter may not be as quick as the Avalanche superstar. But Byfield’s game certainly mimicks MacKinnon’s in several areas.

MacKinnon has this crazy ability to create his own shot, stick-handling to buy more time for himself before sniping one on net when he sees an opening. Looking back at Byfield’s first game this season, that’s exactly how he tallied his first goal.

Below, I have MacKinnon’s first goal against Dallas on Saturday, and also Byfield’s first goal with Sudbury this season. Notice how similar the two are with the exception that Byfield is a left-handed shot.

Talented centerman are so hard to find in the NHL, so when one literally lands in your lap with the second overall pick, the Kings would be foolish to pass on him. They have demonstrated with previous draft picks and acquisitions that they aren’t afraid of taller centers (i.e., Kopitar and Carter).

And what I love about both MacKinnon and Byfield’s games are they are CONSTANTLY. AROUND. THE. NET. It seems like MacKinnon is two steps ahead of everyone else from a playmaking ability, and he puts himself in a great position to make a play when he doesn’t have the puck in his hands.

Similarily, Byfield does the exact same thing, providing support on rushes through the neutral zone, accepting a pass from his fellow forward at the right time, and burying in the back of the net. It’s not something that I immediately expected to find wandering down this wormhole. Still, there are several more examples, not shown in clips here, where the two centermen’s game resemble each other.

Both have such great vision that even when they aren’t forcing a shot on net, they are passing into tight windows for other players to make a play on the puck. It’s no coincidence that Sudbury won all three games in Byfield’s return to the team. Much like his Colorado counterpart, he makes everyone around him better.

MacKinnon tallied 31 goals with 47 assists for 78 points in 58 games for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL before being drafted; nearly the same stats that Byfield put up this past season with Sudbury.

Not that it’s a direct correlation, but MacKinnon tallied 24 goals with 39 assists for 63 points in his rookie season. If the Kings could be the beneficiary of a similar first year from Byfield, they will be in great shape in terms of their rebuild.

He’s incredibly mature for a kid his age, and he’s going to fall into a leadership role with his future NHL franchise, with the potential to don an “A” or “C” on his jersey one day. The Kings are giving the media lip service, indicating that they are looking at a handful of players for the second overall pick.

Make the easy choice. Quinton Byfield, welcome to LA.