The Kings won the second overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, marking the fourth time in franchise history that the team has selected second. The last time the Kings drafted at second overall, the team won the services of defender Drew Doughty in 2008.
With the second pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the Los Angeles Kings have selected forward Quinton Byfield from Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.
Just as the 2008 draft changed the Kings’ franchise, ushering in a new era of young talent and a couple of Stanley Cups, choosing Quinton Byfield will become the same level of franchise-altering decisions for many reasons, not the least of which being that Byfield is now the highest-drafted Black player by an NHL team. In a time when the league so desperately needs it, I also see Byfield ushering in a more diverse NHL.
Byfield is one of the younger players in the draft, having turned 18 in August, but he stands tall at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds. He’s a defensively sound offensive machine, drawing comparisons to both Evgeni Malkin and the Kings’ own Anze Kopitar.
Concerns popped up around Byfield’s play at the World Juniors Championship, where he represented Team Canada and found himself on the fourth line in the games where he wasn’t stapled to the bench. Still, his dominance in the OHL is undeniable, putting up 143 points (61 goals, 82 assists) over the last two years (109 games).
The Kings will get the added bonus of Byfield developing under the wing of Anze Kopitar himself. It will be a truly Disney-movie moment when Anze Kopitar hands off duties to Byfield, but they’ll have plenty of cushion for that transition to happen and that alone is a real luxury.
Though the Kings could’ve chosen German forward Tim Stutzle — who went third overall to the Ottawa Senators and draws comparisons to Patrick Kane — I’ve remained firm in the belief that Byfield will be NHL ready sooner than we think and he’s a perfect fit for the organization’s needs right now, but more importantly for the future.