LA Kings: Hypothetically speaking, what if Rangers take Quinton Byfield?

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

All signs point towards the LA Kings landing Quinton Byfield with the second overall pick, but what if the Rangers do the unthinkable?

Not long after the New York Rangers landed the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, the rumors began swirling that they could be interested in trading down. With Alexis Lafreniere being the consensus number one overall pick – and a left-winger – he might not fit their immediate needs at center. And the LA Kings are at the mercy of their vital decision because of where they sit in the draft order.

Of course, the Rangers could take Quinton Byfield, the consensus number two pick in this class, but general manager Jeff Gorton would catch a lot of flack if Lafreniere lives up to the hype. 6-foot-4 centers are hard to find, and they are even more challenging to trade for, given how valuable they are in the NHL.

Our friends at Blue Line Station said it best:

Would Byfield fill the New York Rangers’ need for a center perfectly? Yeah, he really would. But you just can’t pass on a surefire star, and that is what Lafrenière is.” – Will Wright/Blue Line Station.

The combination of Byfield’s size, strength, and speed, especially for an 18-year-old, is nearly unheard of. So assuming the Rangers remain interested in taking a center in the draft and hold firm on the number one pick, let’s assume they take Byfield ahead of Lafreniere. Where does that leave the Kings?

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LA has a plethora of centers both at the NHL level and in their prospect pool. And while I’ve pretty much committed to naming my next child “Quinton,” the Kings would be getting a pretty darn good player with the number two pick. Lafreniere tallied 100+ points in back-to-back seasons for Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. In a COVID-19 shortened 52-game sample size, Lafreniere logged seven more points in nine fewer games.

There’s an argument that the Saint-Eustache native could be the better fit in the Kings’ prospect pool. At 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, Lafreniere is a big winger with incredible speed and anticipatory instincts. He was a man among boys in the QMJHL while donning leadership letters the previous two years.

So while I have nearly accepted that the Rangers will take Lafreniere and the Kings Byfield, there’s always the outside chance of something strange occurring. The Rangers could also wait a year and make a run at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in free agency after next season or Anthony Cirelli in a trade this offseason. Still, the Kings would end up coming away with a pretty good player if the Rangers elect to go with Byfield.