Well, that sure was exciting! Thanks to COVID-19, we were given a summer full of playoff hockey and a glimmer of light in an otherwise dreary period. Plus, with some lottery luck, we were gifted a second set of ping pong balls to bounce around the vacuum chamber and determine who would be fortunate enough to select first overall this fall when the 2020 kids finally have their moment in the limelight.
Not to mention that it also provided seven fan bases with a few extra days of hope before the crushing blow of losing the play-ins AND losing the lottery set in. Nightmare fuel type stuff.
The one club that ended up erasing the disappointment of a quick bubble appearance was the New York Rangers. Now, I could spend a few hundred words positing why the Rangers could be the perfect organization to get a little wild and deviate from the consensus first-overall prospect in Alexis Lafreniere but I won’t. Mostly because I did spend a few hundred words on it in a Dobber Ramblings a couple of weeks back!
However, for this exercise, let’s assume the Rangers take the Quebec-kid. Next up, the Los Angelos Kings. Now, there has been some smoke that the Kings may prefer Tim Stützle to Quinton Byfield, but I’m going to assume that cooler, wiser heads prevail and the monstrous centre is nabbed in the two-hole.
How exactly does Byfield stack up to previous second-overall selection?
Before we move on, let’s take a moment to reflect on the resume that the newly-minted 18-year-old has built. First, he dominated the minor hockey ranks, leading his York Sicamoe club to back-to-back AAA championships. That was followed by a first-overall selection to Sudbury.
Despite stepping in as one of the youngest players in the league, the 16-year-old helped turn a dreadful Wolves squad into a playoff team. His 29 goals and 61 points in 64 games landed him the CHL Rookie of the Year award. One year later, he improved on virtually every statistical metric. In 59 2019-20 games spread between the OHL, U18 and U20 international levels, the 6’4 centre produced 35 goals and 55 assists for 90 points.
Incredibly, 83.3 percent of those points were primary.
Byfield attempted 304 shots in total, with 152 of them hitting the target. Clicking under three shots per contest isn’t exactly world-beating at this level, but sheds further light on the potential yet to come. If Byfield finds himself back in the OHL next season – or even in Europe playing professionally, expect to see that per-game number balloon further.
The key with Byfield is to unlock all that potential. It’s a cornucopia of upside. A seismic quake of opportunity. His range of outcomes is larger than many of the second-overall kids on the forthcoming list. It’s larger than players who will go several spots after him this fall. But the top end of that range is higher than anyone else in the class. It’s higher than what we’ve seen in a few classes.
For this exercise, I’ve decided to go back a whopping 15 years to the 2005 draft. Also known as the Crosby lottery. I decided to go back until then because that was the last time we had a ridiculous lottery setup. Plus, my lucky number is 16.
** This is also a look at the player’s value at the time they were drafted. What level of talent they were considered and how they projected. Not how their careers have ended up being. This list would look a lot different if we were comparing careers. Check back in 2035 and we’ll shake it out **
- Jack Eichel (2015)
- Drew Doughty (2008)
- Tyler Seguin (2010)
- Quinton Byfield (2020)
- Patrik Laine (2016)
- Andrei Svechnikov (2018)
- Kaapo Kakko (2019)
- Victor Hedman (2009)
- Aleksander Barkov (2013)
- Gabriel Landeskog (2011)
- Bobby Ryan (2005)
- James van Riemsdyk (2007)
- Jordan Staal (2006)
- Nolan Patrick (2017)
- Sam Reinhart (2014)
- Ryan Murray (2012)
Let’s hear how you would rank them!