At the beginning of the month, we reported that super prospect Bowen Byram was likely to join the Colorado Avalanche expanded roster when the team returns to Pepsi Center in July. Now the story is being furthered by speculation out of Vancouver. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Byram will be a part of the playoffs, just that he will be a part of the team’s expanded 28-skater roster.
Hearing that @WHLGiants D Bowen Byram is going to be a part of the @Avalanche roster for the NHL playoff return. Leaving this weekend for Colorado. The 19-year-old Byram has 48 goals and 149 points in 139 regular season and playoff games with Vancouver over the past two years.— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) June 30, 2020
Drafted 4th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, Byram went back to the WHL in an attempt to grow the maturity of his game. He did just that, repeating as one of the best defenders in all of junior hockey.
Byram had another spectacular season playing for the Vancouver Giants. With 15 goals and 52 points in 50 games, many believe that Byram is one of the best prospects in all of hockey. Now that we don’t know when next season will begin, bringing the youngster along for the playoff run makes a lot of sense — particularly if you want him to be ready for the NHL next season.
With the Avalanche looking for a legitimate push for the Stanley Cup, coach Jared Bednar is almost certainly going to default to the veteran defenders with NHL experience when the games matter. It’s a long shot, but the potential does exist for Byram to shine at camp and force his way into the lineup.
When healthy, the top-6 defenders are locked in. Also Conor Timmins, Mark Barberio and Kevin Connauton are all expected to be around for camp as well. That makes it highly unlikely that Byram sees any playing time, unless the team is ravaged by injuries — but when has that ever happened?
Having just turned 19, Byram is one of the youngest players signed to an NHL contract. Even if he doesn’t play, being on the ice the NHL coaches and future teammates for practice and being around the team on game day will go a long way in his development.
Whenever the NHL begins the 2021 season, Joe Sakic and the Avalanche will likely expect Byram to compete for a spot in the everyday lineup. Being around the team all summer should help him take a few large steps in that direction.
It’s also worth noting that earlier this month, Byram was added to Hockey Canada’s U20 Summer Development camp. This camp is expected to run as scheduled at the end of July, so Byram would miss the World Junior tune-up if he is going to be a part of Colorado’s return to play roster.
Reports from Bob McKenzie suggest that the NHL and NHLPA are engaged in heavy negotiations that could lead to an announcement later this week about Phases 3 and 4 of the league’s Return To Play plan.