Everyone wants instant gratification these days, and that certainly applies to the way we tend to view young players in the NHL.
The sky is the limit for every top prospect once they’re drafted, right up until they come to the league and don’t immediately produce at the level we expect. Then we’re awfully quick to sour on them and move on to the next one so that we can repeat the cycle all over again.
The reality is that development is hardly ever linear, and the ones who are able to step in and deliver from day one are the exceptions rather than the rule. Whether it’s due to usage, injuries, or just personal adjustments to an entirely new environment, sometimes it just takes time for things to click into place for a variety of reasons.
Quinton Byfield is a prime example of the convergence of all of those things. Despite the fact that this is the fourth season since he was picked second overall, he’s still just 21-years-old and came into this year with less than 100 NHL games of experience (due to a variety of injuries and complications that set his takeoff back).
Now it’s all starting to finally happen for him. He’s learning how to leverage all of his unique physical tools in a functional capacity, and he’s doing it with increasing regularity. Unlocking that ability has enabled him to make a real impact in Los Angeles in his top-line role, and if you’ve kept all of your Byfield stock these past couple of years you’re now being rewarded for it.
Let’s break down the game tape on what he’s been doing this season, how exactly he’s been doing it, and why the Kings should be quite excited about what they’re capable of as a group with Byfield playing like this.