EL SEGUNDO, California. – Quinton Byfield He should be in catch-up mode in his first full NHL season.
It certainly wasn’t his fault.
The 19-year-old was scheduled to be the second overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Los Angeles Kings’ inaugural roster, but he fractured his left ankle in a pre-season game on October 5. So he had to wait until January 20 before making his debut.
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“It was really hard to get in the middle of the season when everyone is at full speed while you’re injured, but I don’t intend to use that as an excuse,” Bayfield noted at the end of the Kings development camp. last week. “And I think this year I will be more prepared than I was.”
Byfield scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 40 games, including his first goal on January 27 against the New York Islanders. Despite this low production, he was still confident in his offensive skills. Focus on your confrontations and defensive positioning this summer to get more playing time this season on the third line.
We were able to see that Byfield was lacking these game elements in the first round of the playoffs against Edmonton Oilers. Byfield had zero points, a minus -2 lead, four penalty minutes and a circle percentage of 46.2% (six to 13) in its first two games. He was cut short in the last five meetings of the series, and the Kings lost him, but he believes he was able to learn from the ordeal.
“I haven’t lost faith in anything,” said the man, who will turn 20 on August 19. I know I’m a good player and I’ll get there eventually. It is a matter of a little patience and access to opportunities. »
Video: NSH @ LAK: Byfield punishes Ritesh for his second goal
Mike Donnelly, who has been part of the Kings’ player development department for years, believes Byfield’s development has been hampered by a lack of opportunities to learn in the holiday season over the past few years. The Kings did not hold development camp in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Byfield was unable to attend development camp for 2021 due to a heel injury.
“By not attending the development camp, he missed some really important things,” he said. There is no doubt that it brought us back. We are trying to catch up as much as possible. »
Byfield was still able to develop in the American Hockey League despite the pandemic. He played 43 games for Ontario Reign over the past two seasons, including 11 training games to recover from an ankle injury. A clip that allowed him to understand what it means to be a professional.
“If it weren’t for the pandemic, I would have been so young at OHL, and who knows what would have happened there,” Bifield said. But because of COVID and everything, I ended up at AHL and learned a lot from these guys. There were many older veterans, and they showed me the basics. »
Byfield believes that all the hardships he has faced over the past two years will allow him to experience the hatching season.
“I think I still have a lot of things to prove. And I think next season I will be really better.”