The top ranked defensive prospect of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft is none other than Bowen Byram, currently skating for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.
The defenceman is 6’1, 195 pounds and he’s mostly known for his skating ability. He’s a fluid skater and his also aggressive with or without the puck, which puts him in position to win a lot of foot races. He’s also patient and knows how to find his openings, limiting mistakes.
Depending on how the draft breaks down, Byram could be a slick fit for the Colorado Avalanche or Los Angeles Kings. More than a few mock drafts have him going to the Kings, who hold the fifth spot in the first round. That puts Colorado back with Kirby Dach, but the Avalanche could get creative and go with Byram. It would be to their benefit.
On any team, Byram could be a cornerstone defensive guy. With Los Angeles already tooled up well with Doughty, it could fall to the Avalanche to take the plunge. This is especially possible when you consider Erik Johnson, Colorado’s core player on the blueline, is 31-years-old.
Byram instantaneously boosts the fortunes of his team’s offence, as he can push the attack with fiery skating. He’s a rush-leading defenceman, which can carry intrinsic risks for teams not ready to provide sufficient coverage with a shutdown partner.
But for a team ready to play his brand of up-tempo D, Byram will be a most advantageous draft pick.
The 17-year-old doesn’t particularly like to pass the puck when he’s moving, but that creates an exceptional opportunity for teammates because he draws so much attention. The book on Byram has him using lateral edge work and north-south drive to open up the ice and create plays and chances, often for himself.
Byram isn’t shy about shooting the puck or even driving the net, an imaginative decision for a left-handed shot. And he can play under pressure, a must in the NHL.
In 67 games with the Giants last season, Byram was on tap for 71 points – including 26 goals. He had 26 points in 22 playoff games.
And, last but not least, this dude likes to hit. He has a physical element of his game, once described as a “nasty stick” by Josh Williams from Central Scouting, and that’ll help boost his fortunes for going early in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
(Photo credit: WHL Network)