Rangers Draft Prep: Scouting Bowen Byram

Bowen Byram (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

After doing a deep dive into a couple of potential Rangers draft targets in Arthur Kaliyev, and Vasili Podkolzin, I decided to go down a different avenue. I do believe that both of these players will be targets where the Rangers will likely pick.

The reason I discussed Kaliyev and Podkolzin is because I feel the Rangers need to get deeper in their prospect pool at the wing. At the deadline last year, and the 2018 draft, Gorton and co. stock piled their defensive prospects. They acquired Libor Hajek, Yegor Rykov, Ryan Lindgren through trades, and drafted K’Andre Miller, and Nils Lundkvist in the first round. They also added Nico Gross, and Joey Keane in the later rounds. Rangers brass did a great job last year creating a deeper pipeline on the blue line.

So after these moves, I’ve wanted Gorton and co. to target drafting more wingers and create a deeper pool there…..but one particular defenseman has jumped off the screen to me.

Heading into the 2018 draft, the number one player for me where the Rangers were picking (9th overall) was US defenseman Quinn Hughes. Quinn was drafted 7th overall by the Vancouver Canucks and is currently playing at Michigan for the Wolverines. He is expected to make the jump to the big club in Vancouver (whether it’s a PTO or sign his ELC) when Michigan’s season is over. I expect Quinn to be an elite talent in the NHL. He is a phenomenal skater with tremendous vision, and puck moving ability. The biggest knock on Quinn is that he is a bit undersized. So why am I discussing Hughes, and what defenseman should Rangers brass target in the 6-10 range that is similar to him…?

Canadian born Bowen Byram is someone who I want the Rangers to target with their pick. I feel Bowen has similar potential to that of Quinn Hughes. I do not believe he’s as good a prospect as Quinn, but I think he is just a small step below. Let’s take a deeper look into Byram.

Let us first look at his background:

Byram was born and raised in Cranbrook, BC, Canada. He was drafted third overall in 2016 by the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He has been playing there ever since. He is putting up incredible numbers not only for a defenseman, but for any player. He’s a hard working kid, that has a lot of passion for the game.

The type of player:

Byram is a left handed, two way defenseman. As mentioned before, Byram’s game reminds me a lot of Quinn Hughes. He is a two-way, puck moving defenseman. Byram’s skating ability is tremendous, and he has unbelievable vision of the ice. He can create a rush in many different ways.

He can take the puck north to south on his own and create a breakout, or make an outlet pass from his own zone. Byram, like Hughes, makes a living off being an incredible skater and making plays originating from his feet. He is also excellent on his edges being able to get east and west creating time and space for himself both on the offensive blue line and in his own zone to evade pressure.

Although it may not look like it, Byram has a tremendous shot. He also has a tremendous set of hands in that he can create more time and space for himself and use his hands to evade opposing forwards in the neutral zone while entering the opponent’s zone.

He is a power play specialist that can quarterback it extremely well. As for Byram’s defensive play, many people have this pre-conceived notion that “offensive-minded defenseman” are not good in their own zone, and that could not be any less true about Byram. He constantly has an active stick, plays well along the boards, and does a good job with his gap control. Yes, like every other young defensive prospect, Byram can improve his game in his own zone, but his own zone game is good.

To me, Byram is the far and away best defenseman in this draft, and Rangers brass should really consider drafting him. Byram has tremendous upside and can be a number 1 defenseman for the Blueshirts in the future alongside last year’s first round pick K’Andre Miller…..wouldn’t that be fun to watch. He has now made his way to number 3 for me behind Hughes and Kakko and I would be thrilled if Gorton and co. drafted him.

Wrapping Up

To summarize, Cam Robinson of Dobber Prospects said this about Bowen Byram – “An explosive skater who can act as a one-man breakout. He blends his terrific acceleration and north-south speed with lateral edge work and play-creation through the neutral zone. Owns a heavy shot that is effective in all situations.” This statement was made on December 20th, 2018.

Here is a 6 minute, 50 second video of Byram at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2018. Let’s start with his defensive play. At the 30 second mark of the video against Sweden, Byram makes the read on the opposition coming through the neutral zone and decides to step up. He lands an absolute bomb of a hit on the Swedish forward…not a bad hit for a smaller guy. At the 2:03 mark we see Byram go into the corner against two Swiss players to knock the puck away from them creating a turnover and a clear on the penalty kill. Those were two nice defensive plays that stood out to me from Byram’s film here. Let’s look at some of the things that are most impressive about his game. At the 2:46 mark, you see that Byram is on the ice for the Canadian power play quarterbacking it. He starts with the puck in his own zone and skates up the ice with absolute ease getting a zone entry and setting his team up for the PP in the Swedish zone. Next, at the 3:03 mark he has the puck in his own zone with a Swedish forward on his tail. Byram uses his unbelievable skating ability to evade the Swedish player and get a zone entry for the Canadians. One of my favorite clips from this tape is at the 3:40 mark. You see Byram do his signature blue line walking on the power play but it is not that I am talking about. In the very beginning you can see and hear him communicating with his teammates verbally. Excellent job by the 17-year-old commanding a power play…not to mention his pass led to an A+ scoring chance from LaFreniere. At the 4:20 mark you can see Byram toeing the blue line on the power play and then lets a slapper off that ends up in the back of the net off of a defection by Kirby Dach. Byram, as mentioned before, has a tremendous shot. If you want a good grasp of Byram, watch the video in full and see the talent level of Bowen Byram for yourselves….it’s well worth it because he is fun to watch!

Byram’s Statistics:

2018-2019 non-WHL Statistics:

Hlinka Gretzky Cup: 5 games: 1 goal – 3 assists – 4 points

2018 – 2019 WHL Statistics with the Vancouver Giants

As of March 4, 2019

Vancouver Giants: 62 games: 24 goals – 42 assists – 66 points

Featured Image Ctsy Vancouver Giants (Credit: Brian Liesse)