“Your talent sets your floor. Your character sets your ceiling.” – Bill Belichick
For decades, people have used radio to listen to their favorite sporting events. Legendary calls still live on in the fans memory like it was yesterday. Today, tuning into baseball games to hear legends call the play by play, making it seem like you’re at the ballpark. Pat Hughes of the Chicago Cubs, calling the World Series a couple of years ago. Joe Castiglione of the Boston Red Sox, Ken Korach of the Oakland A’s. The Colorado Avalanche have many such legendary calls as well. The one that stick out the most for me is the one where they’re calling the 2001 Stanley Cup Final, game 7, and Joe Sakic passes the cup to Ray Bourque so he can lift it. All I remember was the announcer saying, “Raymond Bourque!” Such a staple in Avalanche history. Today we are also very lucky to have two of the best calling Avs games, either from radio with Conor McGahey or T.V. with Marc Moser. Both are excellent at their craft. Many times you have heard them say, “Avalanche goal! None other than Nathan Mackinnon. What a goal.” We have also heard it once already, but they also called Cale Makar’s first goal. Now, think of this as a call… “Mackinnon, holds, looks, up to Makar, quick pass, GOAL!! Bowen Byram does it again!”
Yep, we are here! Its Bowen Byram time the stud WHL defensemen from the Vancouver Giants. He finished the year with 26 goals and 71 points, 193 shots on goal in 67 games played. That was 1.06 points per game pace. 5v5 he had 18 goals and 42 points. I broke his year into 4 sections. Games 1-22, games 23-44, games 45-67 and playoffs. Lets begin at the beginning of the season, and let me first say, he was 17 though out this year. He doesn’t turn 18 till June 13th. The first 22 games, he had 6 goals and 16 points, going at a 0.73 PPG pace. From there, he turned it up and didn’t look back. In games 23 to 44 he scored 10 goals and 27 points, running a 1.24 PPG pace and to finish off the year, in 23 games he had 10 goals and 28 points, running at a 1.23 PPG pace. A solid season. But then the next season in hockey happened. In 22 games in the playoffs, he had 9 goals and 29 points and 75 shots on goal and lead the WHL in playoff scoring, rocking a 1.32 PPG pace… AS A 17 YEAR OLD DEFENCEMAN…
An All Around Great Defensemen
Bowen Byram is a very good skater, which everything from his game stems. He has great forward speed, he can change direction with relative ease, a good first step and great feet mechanics highlight how good of a skater he is. In the defensive zone, his close in speed and gap control is excellent. He makes the offensive player make the first move so he can counter by either forcing the player to the outside or by breaking up the play with his stick. After the play is broken he will retrieve the puck, usually winning the 1 on 1 battles that might ensue and deliver the puck into a safe place. More often that not, he is already looking to where the puck should be going before he gets the puck. Observing the landscape of the play. What makes him such a good defender is that his feet don’t stop moving, and because of this, players often make a mistake as they’re rushed to make a decision by which time Byram is on top of them. With his feet and stick constantly doing something, he is very efficient in is gaps and shutting down passing and shooting lanes. During the playoffs, he stepped up his shot blocking as well. He was not afraid to step in front of a shot to block it. Even if you get a step on Byram coming into the offensive zone, you better know where you are going and where you are placing the puck, because rarely is he beat wide and if you happen to escape him early, he will hound you down to get the puck.
Once he has the puck in the defensive zone, he can do two things very well with the puck. One, he can skate out with the puck, where he often skate directly into the offensive zone and if the space allows, he will skate directly to the net to get a shot away. Or two, he will pass it quickly to a player in transition and join the rush. Since he is a great skater, being part of the rush is a staple in his game. Once the puck is in the offensive zone, another great trait of his comes out. His vision. He is very good at finding open areas for himself to distribute the puck or to fire shots at the net. He averaged just shy of 3 shots a game this past season. To company his vision is his high IQ when shooting the puck. There is a patience that he possess to shot only when the lane is open, and if it is open, he has a variety of shots he can use. His wrist shot is very accurate and hard. He is very good, if given time, to pick corners of the net. Once again he is rarely found standing still in the offensive zone. His constant movement into open areas keeps the opposing players honest. I love the way he charges at parts of the game. Whether it is the net, corner battles for the puck or at the player either the puck. His aggression is a trait I really have come to admire about him. He is a great all around defensemen. Not only a great offensive player, which he loves being, but he is a great defensive player, which in a recent interview, he said he takes great pride in.
What others are saying about him
“Canada’s produced some high end defensemen lately, Byram is just another to add to the list. He’s very young to be dominating the way he is. He does everything at such a high level. But everything starts from his skating and his IQ. He’ll be a future corner stone piece for the team that drafts him.” - NHL Scout
“His ability to jump away from checks is elite. He’s got a great first for steps. He moves well lateral across the blue line. He can defend speed of the rush. His puck skills are elite. He can move the puck and has a great sense to find the open man and playing fast.” - Michael Dyck, Vancouver Giants Head Coach
He would slide to the left of Cale Makar and they would be the Avalanche top pair for the next decade. Good luck Central Division. They would also be the best pair in the Central division and possibly the western conference as well.
Where will be drafted and NHL timeframe
I think one of Chicago, Colorado or LA will take him. I can’t see him lasting past 5 to be honest. I would say 1 more year in the WHL would do him well, maybe two, but I would expect a long look in 2020.