Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. The Avs announced the signing Friday morning. Byram was selected by the Avalanche with the fourth-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft on June 21 in Vancouver.
“I had a really good feeling about [the Avalanche] from the start, so when they called my name, it was pretty cool,” Byram said following the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver.
“I was hoping it was going to be Colorado – it’s very similar to my hometown.”
An 18-year-old product of Cranbrook, B.C., Byram was NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked defenceman and second-ranked North American skater ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft following an outstanding year in the Western Hockey League, in which he finished third in overall scoring among defencemen with 71 points (26G-45A) in 67 regular season games. Byram’s 26 goals were tops among all WHL blueliners.
The 2019 WHL Playoffs saw Byram lead the Giants to Game 7 of the WHL Championship Series, ultimately falling short to the Prince Albert Raiders in overtime. With 26 points (8G-18A) to his credit through 22 games, Byram led the WHL in playoff scoring in 2019 – an impressive feat for a defenceman who was only 17 years old at the time.
Byram enjoyed a number of highlights throughout the 2018-19 WHL season, including setting a Vancouver Giants franchise record when he became the first defenceman in team history to record five points in one game. On Saturday, January 12, the smooth-skating blueliner tallied two goals and three assists in a 7-4 win over the Kamloops Blazers to set the mark, surpassing the previous record co-owned by Jon Blum, Cody Franson, Paul Albers and Neil Manning.
On Saturday, March 9, Byram continued his assault on the record books, this time taking red pen to the WHL Official Guide. In a 4-3 overtime triumph over the Tri-City Americans, Byram notched the game-winner – his sixth overtime goal of the 2018-19 season – setting a new WHL record for most overtime goals by a player in one campaign. Previously, the record of five overtime goals in a season was held by Eric Fehr of the Brandon Wheat Kings (2004-05) and Deven Sideroff of the Kamloops Blazers (2016-17).
At the 2019 WHL Awards in Red Deer, Byram was named to the WHL’s Western Conference First All-Star team, further recognition of his incredible campaign. Finally, he was named recipient of the Sherwin-Williams Canadian Hockey League Top Prospect Award at the 2019 CHL Awards in Halifax, N.S.
Now, the next challenge for Byram will be making the Colorado Avalanche. His first shot at that will come in training camp this fall.
“I definitely have my work cut out for me [to make the NHL] but I am confident in myself, confident in my abilities,” Byram said. “I know I have to get better, too. It is going to be a challenge, but I am ready for it.
“I have got to get bigger, stronger, faster. I have to shore up little details in my game, but the way I look at it, everyone has to get better, everyone has to fix things. I have to work extremely hard to put myself in a good spot.”
Originally selected by the Giants third overall in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, the 6-foot-1, 192-pound rearguard has skated in 138 career WHL regular season contests, amassing 98 points (32G-66A) along the way. In 29 post-season appearances, Byram has collected 33 points (11G-22A).
Byram has also represented Canada on the international stage, having skated at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenging, tallying five points (1G-4A) in six contests and helping Canada claim a silver medal. In 2018, he skated for Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, notching four points (1G-3A) in five games as Canada put forth a gold-medal performance. He also represented Team WHL at the 2018 CIBC Canada Russia Series, skating in both games, before then participating in the 2019 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Red Deer.
Most recently, Byram attended his first NHL development camp, skating with the Avalanche at the teams development camp in Colorado from June 25 to 29.
Byram was part of an exceptional WHL class at the 2019 NHL Draft. As one of seven players selected in the first round, Byram helped head up a group of 28 WHL players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft – the most to come from any development league.
“It speaks a lot to the ’01-age group in Western Canada and the Western League itself,” Byram said. “It is pretty cool to be part of a group of guys that includes Cozens, Dach, Krebs – they’re some of my best buddies. It is definitely pretty cool to be part of such a deep Western League draft.”