This article was originally published in the Future Watch issue of The Hockey News.
Quinton knows a thing or two about byfield accuracy and understands the difference between winning and losing when you have your shots available.
That’s why, during an off-season in which rolling lockdowns and pandemic-induced restrictions meant free time spent at home, Byfield worked to become a sharpshooter of sorts. He learned to hit moving targets and find a small opening and deliver with precision. He worked on being more precise on the move, delivering strikes from afar and being quicker on draws in close quarters.
Byfield put those hours in service of becoming a difference-maker for his squad. He knew that this was the difference between standing on top of a pile or being sent for packing early. And all that effort paid off when the 18-year-old finally got to see the two words he, like many of his teammates, tried for so long in hopes of finally seeing last summer: “Warzone Victory.”
“with honesty?” Byfield pauses for comedic effect when asked whether winning a round of Call of Duty or scoring your first AHL tally was a big celebration. “No, no. Maybe the first pro target,
The question is not, however, which of the two byfields is celebrating more often these days. His success on the digital battlefield has been hit and miss – “There are some tough games and some really good games. I’m all over the map,” he laughed—but Bayfield was out in the back half of March as one of the AHL’s hottest players and its deadliest first-year skater. On March 13, Henderson was out against the Silver Knights. Starting with assists, Bayfield went on a seven-game tear in which they compiled nine points, including goals in five straight games. By the end of March, Bayfield ruled Ontario with six goals in 21 games and 16 points. was leading, which alone was enough to sit as the AHL’s third-highest scoring rookie.
As impressive as it is, additional context is necessary to explain how rare the production of byfields is. In 2014–15, William Nylander hasn’t quite as young a player as Byfield – one of nearly two dozen under-19 skaters to play in the AHL this season – scored at such a rate in more than 20 games. True, this season has created the perfect storm for Bayfield to get such an opportunity. As in any other campaign, transfer agreements between NHL and CHL clubs would require players such as Bayfield – those with less than 20 and less than four seasons of CHL service – to be retained in their respective NHL as long as they are not on the NHL. Major-junior teams should be sent back. roster. But it does little to dampen the brilliance of his state line.
But don’t take Bayfield’s offensive achievements for even a second to mean he’s content anywhere. “If you just take a snapshot of his goals and assists and games, you’re satisfied with the ratio,” Reigns coach John Wroblewski said. “But I think everyone involved wants to inspire him to try to convert even more often. It would be one thing if he was scoring runs at every opportunity he had. Then you’re going, ‘Okay , that’s almost right.’ But he has definitely left some opportunities on the table. I think he will be the first to accept it.”
An excited “ugh” from Byfield confirms Wroblewski’s suspicions and speaks to Bayfield’s desire to be the same aggressive game-changer he has been at every level throughout his career. To hear Byfield say this, he is unhappy not only about the games in which he has not scored, but also the games in which he has not scored many times. For Wroblewski, it’s a sign of Byfield’s “assassin-type mentality,” one of the traits that sets him apart from the rest of his class and prompted the Kings to pick him second in the 2020 draft. inspires. But Wroblewski, who spent four seasons coaching with USA Hockey’s national team development program before arriving in Ontario, Calif., said byfield also creates a significant composure, especially for his age. “When you’re not achieving success and overreacting and getting too agitated and trying to turn things around all at once, that’s a fine line,” Wroblewski said. “He has the perfect mix of it. If things don’t go according to him, he shows up and is ready to go to work the next day, ready to grow, ready to get better. From the outside Little signs of being disappointed. It seems that he divulges those feelings and enables them to get off his back and get back to work.”
And there’s work to be done. The physical characteristics of the byfield are clear. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he cuts an imposing figure. That he swiftly adds to it believing his frame is a frightening proposition even for professional defense personnel to defend him. And he’s only going to get stronger and faster as he moves out of his teens and into adulthood, which leaves no question that he’s the prototypical force in a day and age when players shredded from similar fabric would become the Atlanta Thrashers. Threatening to go the way. But, at the same time, the benefits of building a byfield have also produced some trends in need of improvement. “He has survived and thrived with a lot of poke-and-go type games,” Wroblewski said. “It doesn’t translate to the big leagues here. He’s doing it all. He’s learning different support routes, different defensive-zone coverage, and different mindsets.
Byfield is not blind to its shortcomings. He echoed Wroblewski’s criticism of one-handed puck play as if the coach and player were of one mind. Byfield clearly heeds the advice of the Governance coaching staff, and he also praises the merits of the changes he has made in that regard. Being strong on his stick has helped him make more for himself and make plays quicker, which is an important skill at the highest levels.
He sees the corrections made away from the puck in that light. Going back to his early days at Major Junior, Byfield said he was not reliable defensively, but took time to become a fixture in the late game and shorthand positions for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL.
“It’s the same here,” he said. “I’m trying to adjust defensively as well. Still not a great year plus-minus-wise, so trying to really work on the defensive game and do the best I can back there. I’m starting to improvise, watching as many videos as I can, learning a few positions where I need to be and getting the structure right. I think it helped me aggressively too. This one It’s a big key.”
No one is going to accuse the byfield of failing to work. While it can be difficult for many to find positivity in the strangest and most difficult year of their lives, Byfield has used the limited opportunity to enjoy the off-ice aspects of living in Southern California to spend as much time . Can do on the rink.
And because evening entertainment is mainly confined to household activities, he has also been a student away from the rink. He is living alone for the first time in his life, but it lets him control the remote. Sure, he’ll tune into an evening slate of big league games for fun, to watch the likes of Conor McDavid or Auston Matthews possibly take an offensive move or two.
But the Los Angeles Kings, the Reigns parent club, are classified as a must-watch TV in a one-person byfield home. “We play the same structure, so I look to try to reduce those points,” he said. “Hopefully when I get there one day, I can be comfortable and be as fast as I can.”