After combing through the highlight tape of Bowen Byram, the Colorado Avalanche’s fourth-overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, it becomes apparent that Byram has all the tools to be a very skilled core player for the squad in the coming future.
Byram is a 6-foot, 195 lbs left-handed defensemen that most recently played for the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League (WHL). In 2019, in the WHL, he ranked third among all defensemen in points and proved to be a capable scorer with 26 goals, 45 assists, and 71 total points. During the 2019 playoffs, Byram switched to another gear with eight goals, 18 assists, and 26 total points in 22 games.
Outside of his statistics last season that resulted in the Avalanche selecting him very high in the draft, what traits make Bowen Byram a possible staple player in the team’s attempt to build a Stanley Cup roster? Bowen has many features that teams love in talented prospects such as youth, experience, size, skating ability, patience, accuracy, puck placement, and his ability to corral and settle bouncing pucks.
Byram is 18 years old and he’s been playing in the WHL since he was 15 years old, 3 seasons of semi-professional hockey allowed Bowen to get into a rhythm that culminated in a break out season in 2018-19.
Byram’s highlight reel (linked below) shows a player that is comfortable at the point or with the puck in his hands and has the confidence, vision, and ability to score, assist, or move the puck through the offense. The patience he demonstrates often results in finding the open man or the back of the net, as his skating ability causes the defense to break down and scramble to keep him covered.
Byram is an offensive-minded defenseman that can score and facilitate the offense, but he also shows he’s a willing and capable defender with a good poke check, good defensive reads, chase-down skating ability and the size and strength to lay a good hit occasionally.
Byram often shows an elite ability to leak out and lead or start the fast break. He seemingly has the nose for the puck, where he’s consistently in the right place at the right time to put back redirected pucks. Byram set a WHL league record scoring six overtime, game-winning goals in 2018-19, adding the adjective ‘clutch’ to his already impressive profile.
Byram will have to compete to earn a spot on the Avalanche roster mainly because the defensive depth chart is crowded with the likes of Cale Makar, Sam Girard, Nikita Zadorov, Erik Johnson, and Ian Cole as well as other pipeline defensemen Ryan Graves, Conor Timmins, and Calle Rosen. Byram will likely fight up for playing time, and near the end of the season he will be a regular on the ice, but it will take time and continued development.
The Avalanche had the best chance to land a top-three pick in the draft, but their selection ended up at No. 4. Though the fall was frustrating, Joe Sakic and the Avalanche brass managed to come out with a great player that will impact this franchise down the road. After all, Cale Makar was the fourth-overall selection, and he grew and developed into the top NHL prospect in the league. Bowen Byram has an opportunity to follow in Makar’s footsteps and help the Avalanche redefine their NHL dynasty for years to come.