As the No. 2-ranked North American skater ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft, Quinton Byfield has heard himself compared to numerous players, but one parallel seems to resonate more than the rest.
Here's a tale of the tape:
The Pittsburgh Penguins selected Malkin No. 2 overall in 2004, and many project Byfield to go second overall at this year's draft behind Alexis Lafreniere.
TSN's Craig Button is the most prominent draft analyst to draw the comparison. He called Byfield a "Malkin clone" last summer, and later said he has "Evgeni Malkin hands" ahead of the world juniors. The Athletic's Corey Pronman didn't make any player comparisons in his scouting report, but he did write that Byfield has "truly elite hands" and that his skating ability is the "foundation" of his game. That has Malkin written all over it.
Byfield plans to try and emulate Malkin's game.
"I'll definitely watch as (many) Pittsburgh games as possible just to see what he does on the ice and how he plays," he said. "He's a big 200-foot center, and just (the) amazing offensive ability he has and just how he plays is unbelievable. I'll definitely watch him quite a bit and try and mold my game a little bit after him."
NHL director of central scouting Dan Marr has also compared Byfield to the legendary Jean Beliveau. Either way, there are some lofty expectations for the 17-year-old.