Canucks are linked to Bowen Byram but there is too much risk

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 22: Bowen Byram #4 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 22: Bowen Byram #4 of the Colorado Avalanche skates with the puck during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

With the trade deadline just over a couple weeks away, the trade rumours are heating up for the Vancouver Canucks. Actually, the rumours have been hot for weeks.

Players like J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser have been the front runners in trade rumours for the Canucks and it will be interesting to see if either one of those players is still a Canuck after March 21. Conor Garland and Tyler Motte have also been been brought up in trade rumours.

Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts column that the players are sick of the rumours.

However, the rumours just won’t go away.

Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal published an article for The Athletic (paywalled) on Thursday providing updates on the recent rumours on Miller, Boeser and Motte. An interesting part of the article was that Drance and Dhaliwal heard the Canucks were linked to Colorado Avalanche defenceman Bowen Byram.

What Byram would bring to the Canucks and what could go to the Avalanche

Byram already has Vancouver connections. The Cranbrook B.C. native played junior with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. Byram also trains in Vancouver during the offseason.

Byram was taken fourth overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft (held in Vancouver) and is considered a key piece in the Avalanche’s future.

He is a talented, versatile and mobile defenceman who is good in all areas of the ice and still has a lot of upside and potential. Byram is known for his tremendous hockey IQ, skill and skating. In 37 NHL games, Byram has five goals and six assists for 11 points.

Canucks President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and General Manager Patrik Allvin have spoken about finding younger players to acquire. At the age of 20, he is in the perfect age range.

Byram’s puck-moving and versatility would be welcome on the Canucks blueline. The Avalanche have been linked with Miller and he or even Boeser could go in a package for Byram, a pick or two and one more young player or prospect.

However, Byram is a left-handed defenceman and the Canucks need defencemen who are right-handed. The idea is appealing though. Byram could be the number two left-handed defenceman behind Quinn Hughes. But what would they do with Jack Rathbone? Do they package him to Colorado for Byram? Moving Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract is a huge obstacle.

There is also one thing that would make the Canucks think twice about acquiring Byram.

Byram’s concussion problems provide a big risk

While Byram is a promising NHL player, his young career has been rocked by concussions.

It started last season when he started having concussion symptoms at the end of February after a game against the Arizona Coyotes. He returned on March 18 but on March 25, he took a hit from Keegan Kolesar of the Vegas Golden Knights. Three days later he was placed in the concussion protocol.

Then things got worse, Byram tested positive for COVID-19 and got vertigo.

“I felt like I was a corpse,” Byram told Peter Baugh of The Athletic. “I was dizzy, couldn’t see. It was crazy. It was like somebody was pounding on my head. It was tough, and everything snowballed on top of it.”

Byram was ready to go for the second round of the 2021 playoffs against the Golden Knights but Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar didn’t put him in the lineup.

It was a good start to Byram’s sophomore season as he scored his first NHL goal against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Chicago Blackhawks on opening night. However, the concussions returned after he took a high hit from Canucks captain Bo Horvat on November 11. Byram returned for two games in late November but was then put on injured reserve. He returned to the Avalanche lineup on New Year’s Day but two weeks later, the concussion symptoms were still lingering and he left the Avalanche for personal reasons.

Byram called his parents saying, “‘I can’t do it. I can’t play and feel like this,” according to his father Shawn.

Byram has resumed skating over the past few days but it is still unclear when he will return to the Avalanche lineup.

With Byram having already dealt with three concussions with not even two seasons completed, there is too much risk to trade him. This could be another situation like the one with Micheal Ferland who signed a four-year contract with the Canucks in July of 2019. Ferland only played 14 games with the Canucks putting up five points and the concussion symptoms kept recurring. Ferland is basically retired. Many NHL players have had their careers ended by concussions

Of course, there is a chance, with the right rehabilitation that Byram recovers and gets back to being the player he needs to be. Sidney Crosby is the best example of this. From 2011 to 2012, he dealt with concussions but has since won two Stanley Cups, multiple NHL awards and is still considered one of hockey’s best players.

For the Canucks, they have the chance to get a defenceman who has a lot of potential but there is a lot of risk with Byram due to his concussion issues. It’s very tempting but I would probably stay away due to the high risk and I don’t think Joe Sakic wouldn’t like to part ways with the young defenceman.

If the Canucks were to trade for Byram it would be a high-risk, high reward or boom or bust type of move.

Canucks Prospect Koskenvuo Making Significant Progress Overseas. dark. Next