The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Eight writers have ranked players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022, in the Colorado Avalanche organization. Each participant used their own metric of value to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.
Bowen Byram has been through a lot already in the first couple years of his NHL career with the Colorado Avalanche. After a three-year junior career Byram didn’t have to wait long for his NHL debut as he started out in the pandemic shortened 2021 season with 19 games played, two assists, and 23 penalty minutes but nothing more. He turned a corner in production with the 2021-22 season by opening his goal-scoring account on Opening Night against the Chicago Blackhawks. It was just a taste of what was to come in his second rookie season.
Bowen Byram pots his FIRST @NHL goal #NHLonSN | #NHLFaceOff pic.twitter.com/qxHUp2PUo3— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 14, 2021
Byram seemed to have fit in well with the Avalanche after being concussed by Keegan Kolesar of the Vegas Golden Knights and missing in his first season. However, the difficulties that came from that hit coupled with another one from Bo Horvat caused Byram to sit out from January to April last season, contemplating retirement.
For the 21-year-old defenseman, it was a tough time and decision to ponder. Byram has always had that skill and potential with a high ceiling above him. But whether or not it was worth the risk to his future health at such a young age is something no one ever wants to face.
Ever since he was drafted fourth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft from the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, Byram could be viewed as a mini-Cale Makar. His skating ability, puck movement, and skillfulness were beautiful to watch alongside some grit as well. His highlight reel is already pretty lengthy for only being in the NHL for two years.
Bo Byram’s stride pic.twitter.com/62Z8Lx3F09— Emily Wade (@Emily_Wade) February 25, 2021
That’s not a rookie move, Bo Byram pic.twitter.com/L1OgokFl7W— Emily Wade (@Emily_Wade) January 31, 2021
Byram may very well take the top spot in T25U25 in the coming years once Makar turns 25 in a couple of years if he continues to develop and not have any more concussion-like setbacks. Remind you that Byram is still very young and already a Stanley Cup champion. He is surrounded by both veterans and other young guns on defense to lead him into his own which will only help his development even more.
Having been paired mostly with a variety of players from last season, Byram has been exposed to plenty of different playing styles on ice. Even though he missed months on end and wasn’t able to record his first playoff goal, he has a lot more coming his way. He does have a lot to prove still, especially as the end of his ELC is approaching at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. Even though he’ll be an RFA, it’s a critical piece of this young Avalanche defense that Joe Sakic and Chris MacFarland will not want to lose.
While Byram is currently a third-pair defenseman, he will eventually fill the hole EJ leaves when he possibly retires at the end of this upcoming season. A top four of Makar, Toews, Byram, and Girard that may come into their own in the next couple of years are going to be a scary sight to see for opposing teams.
Avs fans are extremely lucky to have several world-class defenders on their side, from the bottom up, from the young guns to seasoned veterans. Byram is just one piece of that, and in this group of defense that is pretty much the same on their run to the Cup last season, it gives Byram and company a good look of going back-to-back this upcoming season so long as health is on his side.
2022 Top 25 Under 25
#3: Sam Girard
#4: Alex Newhook
#5: Ben Meyers
#6: Oskar Olausson
#7: Justus Annunen
#8: Sean Behrens
#9: Jean-Luc Foudy
#10: Sampo Ranta
#11: Martin Kaut
#12: Alex Beaucage
#13: Mikhail Maltsev
#14: Shane Bowers
#15: Colby Ambrosio
#16: Danila Zhuravlyov
#17: Andrei Buyalsky
#18: Matthew Steinburg
#19: Nikolai Kovalenko
#20: Trent Miner
#21: Keaton Middleton
#21: Wyatt Aamodt
#23: Taylor Makar
#24: Nathan Clurman
#25: Ivan Zhigalov