Newmarket's Quinton Byfield has been named a finalist for the Canadian Hockey League's 2019-20 CHL Top Draft Prospect of the Year Award presented by Kubota Canada.
Byfield, 17, who plays forward for the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves, finished first in team scoring with 82 points in 45 games including 32 goals and 50 assists.
Last season’s CHL Rookie of the Year won World Junior gold with Canada and captained Team Red at the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings has the Wolves centre ranked second in North America.
Since 1991, the top draft prospect award has been presented to the top eligible prospect for the NHL Draft from across the CHL as determined by NHL Central Scouting.
The other finalists are defenceman Kaiden Guhle of the Prince Albert Raiders, representing the Western Hockey League, and forward Alexis Lafreniere of the Rimouski Oceanic from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Guhle led the Raiders defence corps in scoring with 40 points in 64 games, including 11 goals and 29 assists.
The 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alberta, won a WHL championship during his rookie season and competed in the 2020 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game where he scored a goal for Team White. He’s listed eighth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the 2020 NHL Draft.
Lafreniere was the QMJHL’s top scorer with 112 points counting 35 goals and 77 assists in 52 games for the Oceanic. The reigning CHL Player of the Year earned gold with Canada as MVP of the World Junior Championship then captained Team White to victory at the Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
April’s final rankings for the 2020 NHL Draft have the Saint-Eustache, Quebec, native at number one.
Last season Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants was the CHL Top Draft Prospect as the second ranked North American skater before being selected fourth overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 NHL Draft.
The most recent CHL winner from the OHL is Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts in 2018, with WHL nominee Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings winning one year earlier.
The award was not presented between 2003-05 therefore missing former Oceanic captain Sidney Crosby, who was the draft’s first overall pick in 2005, however, it was presented to Rimouski’s Vincent Lecavalier in 1998.
Chris Phillips is the only former Raider to win the award in 1996, while no member of the Wolves have ever been a recipient of the award.
The 2019-20 recipient of the CHL Top Draft Prospect Award presented by Kubota Canada will be announced later this month.