Bowen Byram: the local kid on everybody’s radar in the 2019 draft

KELOWNA, BC - FEBRUARY 7: Bowen Byram #44 of the Vancouver Giants skates with the puck against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 7, 2018 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
KELOWNA, BC - FEBRUARY 7: Bowen Byram #44 of the Vancouver Giants skates with the puck against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 7, 2018 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /

There is going to be a fantastic defencemen available near the top of next year’s draft. Local boy, Bowen Byram is turning heads and the Canucks should keep tabs of who is in their backyard.

41 days. That’s how long until the NHL season starts. For the Vancouver Canucks, Young Stars is only in a couple of weeks and training camp shortly after. When I profiled a trio of high-end centres in next year’s draft, I said a certain defenceman would get his spot in the sun. Today is that day.

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Bowen Byram could be a match made in heaven for the Canucks. We are all dreaming of first overall, but in the event that it doesn’t happen again, we can look at potential alternatives. I still believe the future is defence is nowhere near set and if the Canucks find themselves in a position to draft Byram in the right spot, they are going to reap the rewards.

Byram is from Cranbrook, British Columbia. Local boy? Check. Plays for the Vancouver Giants? Check. Skilled and quick? Check and check. This is an incredible opportunity for hockey fans in the Vancouver area. All you need to do is head down to Langley to see Byram play on a regular basis.

Over the years, the Canucks have received grief for passing on local players. It was rather ironic that doing so in 2014 hasn’t worked out as intended. Regardless, our fans will be well aware of Byram and if we are picking in the 5-7 range again, we will keep our eyes peeled.

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Byram isn’t just special because of where he was born and which team he plays for. Those are nice bonuses. I haven’t seen a lot of footage from his play. For now, I am pulling information from highlight videos and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

What stood out to me was his hands. Silky mitts that control the puck well. Byram is definitely a modern defenceman, combining that skill with very good skating. His acceleration in particular is fun to watch and he is unafraid to drive the net.

They sure grow them big in Cranbrook. He may only be 6’1,” but at 192 lbs, he isn’t afraid to make a physical impression on the ice as well. Byram looked so much bigger than the competition at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and I’m sure the Canucks will love that.

Wrist shot is pretty good and from the short sample I watched, his vision is pretty good. He makes clean, crisp passes and has no trouble finding his linemates to set up nice plays. As a 16-year-old, he had 27 points in 60 games with the Giants last season.

Byram also played at the World Junior U18’s, collecting an assist in the tournament. At the aforementioned Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Byram had four points in five games. You can watch his highlights from the tournament here.

Canucks and need

In the draft, especially in the top 10, I always advocate for picking the best player available, irrespective of need. Prospect rankings are fluid at the draft and we don’t know how things will change between now and then. At the moment, Byram is the best defenceman in the 2019 draft.

The Canucks’ defence is far from set, so if Byram is the best player available, the team should snap him up. Better yet, the club should find a way to get themselves another pick in the top ten. Unfortunately, there is nothing on the roster the team is willing to part with worth that much. Although, if they could grab a couple of late firsts, trading up wouldn’t be so crazy.

Next. Travis Green wants more from his defencemen. dark

If things align correctly, the Canucks could make a lot of people happy with this selection. They would add another great player to an already strong prospect pool and satiate the need for a potential impact player from B.C. For now, I do recommend watching him play for the Giants this season. It could be a nice preview for the draft.