With the 4th Pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche Have Selected Bowen Byram From the Vancouver Giants of the WHL.
About Bowen Byram
The top defender coming out of this year’s draft class, Byram has the potential to be a legitimate No. 1 option for an NHL team when he eventually makes the jump to the league.
Built in the mold of a modern-day NHL defender, Byram is 6 foot and 193 pounds and has the ability to shoot, pass and move the puck cleanly. He’s also an accountable player in his own zone and uses his impressive vision, mobility and skating to make up for some mistakes as far as positioning goes.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Those who wondered if Byram would be an effective point producer have been silenced this season. He started the 2018-19 campaign off with a gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky U18 Cup, collecting four points in five games. This season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, the alternate captain has put together a solid draft-eligible campaign. He’s among the top defenders in the league in points and is second among Giants skaters.
Related: NHL Draft Guide | 2019 Edition
In his rookie season, he collected 27 points in 60 games, winning Giant’s Rookie of the Year and the WHL’s Western Conference Rookie of the Year honours. In his sophomore season, Byram impressed again, putting up 26 goals and 71 points in 67 games, including a WHL record six overtime-winning goals.
He has been relied on heavily by the Giants this season, and some calling into question his endurance because of this, but he’s likely being overplayed and his numbers this season should silence any doubters critical of his skill.
His goal totals this season lead all defenders in the league and are a franchise record for the Giants. His point total is the 14th most all-time by a WHL U18 defender and his 26 goals are eighth-most all-time and the most since 2001-02 for a U18 in the WHL.
He’s a great skater with an ability to surprise opposing players with his speed. His vision allows him to make big passing plays, and he isn’t afraid to play physically. He handles the puck very well and has a quick, hard shot that can fool goaltenders. He’s consistently ranked in the top-10, with some ranking him as high as fourth. He has the potential to be a top-five pick and will be a top-10 at the very least.”
How This Affects the Avalanche Plans
The Colorado Avalanche made the playoffs in 2019 and got an opportunity to select Byram fourth overall as a result of the Matt Duchene trade. It doesn’t get much better than that, especially given the fact that the team can be patient with his development.
The Avalanche are a rare-breed of teams who are primed to be potential playoff contenders for the foreseeable future who also have a high-end prospect like Byram in their system just waiting to make the jump to the NHL.
As is always the case, prospects can make the jump and play in the NHL at 18 years old. If there’s even a shred of doubt that he’s ready, though, there’s no reason to rush this development and burn a year of his entry-level deal. Especially when defenders typically take longer to make the jump.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.