After two years the focus of this series will change to typically a feature of the week (mostly) rather than a wide view statistical and highlight run down. If there is a prospect who you would like to see in an upcoming feature then please let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best!
The Colorado Avalanche returned Bowen Byram to the Vancouver Giants in the WHL just ahead of a three games in three nights weekend and then a two week cross-country road trip to the prairies capped off with four games in five nights. To say that Byram was thrown back into the fire would be an understatement.
Byram took his familiar position within the team as the number one defenseman, top power play quarterback, frequent penalty killer and alternate captain. Immediately he put up the production that he’s known for with two assists in a 4-2 loss to Portland in his season debut and ended up with a five assist weekend in that first block of three games. For his efforts Byram was named to the CHL team of the week as one of the two most outstanding defensemen in the country.
Defence: Ilya Solovyov & @BowenByram.
— Canadian Hockey League (@CHLHockey) October 1, 2019
Despite the accolades what had eluded Byram in his first weekend back in the WHL is what he hasn’t done in his entire month in Colorado — score a goal. It wasn’t for lack of trying as Byram leapt out of the gates on his third WHL season with nine shots on goal in his first contest including an incredible rush seen below, which was not the only instance of such type of highlight that evening.
Finally in his fifth game in a 4-0 win over Winnipeg, Byram found the back of the net on the power play. After 19 shots on goal and numerous other shot attempts a puck found the back of the net on his signature move of jumping into space and firing a heavy wrist shot.
It also didn’t take long for Byram to find himself in his first scrap of the season in a spirited rematch of the WHL finals against the Prince Albert Raiders where Vancouver fell 4-2. He answered the bell against overage behemoth Jeremy Masella after Byram laid a hard hit against another Raider along the boards. Byram held his own in a fight he didn’t quite bargain for as seen in the clip below.
To cap off his third weekend back with the Giants, Byram had another two assist evening in a 4-2 win over Regina. The play seen below was originally credited as a goal for Byram but it must have grazed off of a teammate. It is a play he is well-known for jumping into space in the slot and firing off a snapshot.
This is the Bowen Byram we wanthttps://t.co/L6lWSc9F0o
— Nathan Rudolph (@Nathan__Rudolph) October 14, 2019
All in all after nine games including seven on the road Byram stands at one goal and nine assists for 10 points and good for third in team scoring and tops in Giants points per game. That also leads the WHL in points from defenseman and Byram is tied for second in the league in assists.
After potting a goal in his fifth game of the season the pressure was off Byram to score and he eased back from shooting at will. Some may say that goal scoring regression was coming although Byram shot at a very average for major junior 13% last season. Thus far he is shooting 4.5% off 22 shots so indeed shooting regression will actually pick his conversion rate up moving forward.
Byram’s contributions go beyond the boxscore as he’s a big leader on the team and a catalyst for their offense as evidenced by the clip below showing him jumping all the way up ice to make a play. Such move is very common for Byram as his aggressive nature often takes him to making plays behind the net and leading the rush. It took him some time to get back in the swing of things, going between aggressive and then to more measured and he will need to continue to find that correct balance. Byram is also working on his defense and becoming more consistent in those areas but uses a good stick and reads plays well.
When you are watching the Vancouver Giants breakout and apparently Bowen Byram is their highest man up the ice pic.twitter.com/TBKxZHg3C7
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) October 14, 2019
The Giants are a good team and will improve on their 6-5-0 record and despite going 3-3 on a tough road trip they currently hold the lead in their division. Vancouver returns much of their defense and goaltending from their long playoff run last year in addition to a younger forward core and should be in the mix for another playoff run and shot at the Memorial Cup. Once they settle back in with some home games their offense should pick up with more wins as a result. The Giants play a style similar to the Avalanche and should be a seamless transition when Byram is ready to play in the NHL.
What’s next for Byram is a trip to the Canada-Russia series representing the WHL on November 13th and 14th. Then the big event for him will be Canada’s World Junior camp in early December. Byram will continue to stay busy in Vancouver in the meantime with another three games in three nights this coming weekend.
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) October 16, 2019