When Gary Bettman announced the NHL’s Return To Play (RTP) plan earlier this week, he outlined a the roadmap for how the 2019-20 season would be concluded. There were two major takeaways from his announcement:
- The league is going to do whatever they can to resume the season for 24 teams
- There is still a ton they haven’t figured out yet
One thing that was outlines in the RTP plan is that if we do ever get to the stage where the season resumes - which will be no earlier than late July - each team is going to be able to carry an expanded roster or 28 skaters and as many goalies as they like.
That means even though the Avalanche roster will be healthy, guys who finished the season as injury call-ups will still be around. Guys like Sheldon Dries, Logan O’Connor and Martin Kaut will undoubtedly be a part of the expanded roster but with 28 spots, that also leaves the door open for 2019 fourth overall selection Bowan Byram to be with the team.
After having his WHL season cut short, Byram is free to join the Avalanche as soon as the league allows teams to gather, and that’s something you’d assume the team would want. With no playoffs and a summer without development camp, bringing Byram to the team’s pre-playoffs camp is almost a necessity - even if there is no intention to play him in any of the games.
Still only 18 for another week, Byram is one of the youngest players signed to an NHL contract. Simply being around the team and being a part of the practice would go a very far way in terms of getting him ready for the next stage of his hockey career.
Byram had another spectacular season playing for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL. With 15 goals and 52 points in 50 games, many believe that Byram is set to make the jump to the NHL next season. Now that we don’t know when next season will begin, bringing the youngster along for the playoff run makes a lot of sense. He can be around his future teammates and coaches while getting familiar with the team’s systems both on and off the ice.
Byram likely won’t play in any games. This isn’t Cale Makar from last year - Bryam is younger and not nearly as NHL ready. The Avalanche will be looking to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup and for the first time all year they’ll be doing so with a full compliment of healthy defenders. The only way Byram will see game action is if something terrible happens on the injury front. Right now he’s probably about 10th on the depth chart.
That said, he doesn’t have to get into games for it to be the right decision for the Avs to add him to the extended roster. Simply being around an NHL practice will give Byram a head start towards making the team whenever the 2020-21 season eventually starts.