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The 2018 NHL Draft was filled with high-end defensemen, with five blueliners going in the first 12 picks. This year’s draft is looking to be the opposite of that, with few high-end defenders available. However, one player who would be considered one of the best defensemen in any draft year is Bowen Byram. He was the third overall pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. The Cranbrook, British Columbia native led the WHL in goals by a defender with 26 this season. He also scored 71 points in 67 games for the Vancouver Giants. He’s kept up that pace in the playoffs, with three goals and eight points in six games so far.
Byram has represented Canada on the international stage. He put up four points in six games, helping them to gold at last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Last season he put up five points in six games, helping Canada Red to the silver medal at the Under 17 World Hockey Challenge. He also played in five games as an underage player at the IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
Bowen Byram Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born June 13th, 2001 — Cranbrook, British Columbia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 192 lbs [183 cm / 79 kg]
Byram is an excellent skater in both directions and this becomes the basis of a strong two-way game. He is able to join the rush, or pinch in at the blue line and still get back to his defensive position. His strong backwards skating allows him to maintain strong gap control and makes him tough to beat on the rush. Byram has outstanding speed and excellent acceleration. He also adds excellent pivots, edgework, and agility. This allows Byram to cover all areas of the ice. Byram is strong on his skates and has excellent balance. He wins battles in front of the net and along the boards. He is also strong at protecting the puck.
Byram has a very good shot from the blueline and the vision and passing skills to quarterback the power play. He understands how to get his shot on the net through traffic, using his lateral agility to open up shooting lanes. He is able to score in a variety of ways and can sneak down from the point to use his wrist shot or snapshot. Both feature a quick release. They can also be effective weapons on the rush. Byram also has an excellent slap shot.
Byram is a strong puck-mover, willing to make plays through the neutral zone and to push forward to create offence as well. He is not afraid to lead the rush or join it as a trailer. Byram has excellent vision and passing skills. He can make a strong first pass to start the transition game as well as quarterback things from the point. His offensive game is at a very high level.
Byram is willing to play a physical game and forwards have to be aware of coming down his side of the ice with their heads down. He is smart and disciplined, not getting himself out of position to make those hits. He is strong along the boards and in front of the net. However, Byram will need to add some muscle to his frame before he can do this at the pro level. Byram can skate the puck out of danger and makes a strong first pass to start the transition game. His outstanding skating ability allows Byram to maintain excellent gap control and makes him very difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. Byram plays huge minutes on the Vancouver Giants and is counted on in all situations.
Projection and Comparison
Byram has the skills to be a number one defenseman in the NHL. However, he may not be ready next year as he still needs to add some muscle to his frame before he is ready for the pro game. It is also natural that defensemen take a little longer than forwards to be NHL ready. In terms of a stylistic comparison, Byram’s game is reminiscent of Drew Doughty, however this is not comparing skill level.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Bowen Byram that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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