Colorado Avalanche: Will Bowen Byram Join the Team?

If the Colorado Avalanche’s season resumes, will their premier prospect, Bowen Byram, join the team?

The Colorado Avalanche will resume playing hockey some day. The hope for me has always been to see them resume playing hockey this summer to complete the 2019-2020 season and compete in the playoffs.

If that happens, my understanding is that their fourth-overall draft pick from 2019, Bowen Byram, could join them. He signed his professional contract with the Avs last summer and attended the training camp and preseason. He spent the season with his major juniors team, the Vancouver Giants, but he’d be eligible to join the Avalanche when his season ends.

Well, the WHL canceled its season in response to the restrictions placed on gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, to me, that means he should be eligible to join Colorado if the season resumes.

Should he, though? No one is going to question what caliber of hockey player he is. He’s spent three seasons with the Giants, wearing the A as alternate for the last two seasons. In those three seasons, he’s played 177 games and recorded 150 points (46 goals, 104 assists).

More impressively, he was scoring better than a point a game in the last two seasons — 52 points in 50 games this year and 71 points in 67 games the year before. Remember, that’s as a defenseman. No question, he has nothing left to prove in major juniors.

Is he ready to make the leap to the NHL, though? He was unable to crack the lineup in the preseason. He’s young, just 18, and a young 18 at that.

His failure to crack the lineup in the preseason isn’t necessarily a testimony of his abilities, though. More, it speaks to the Colorado Avalanche’s depth on the blueline.

Right now, our defensive corps has two young, exciting, offensive defensemen in Samuel Girard and, of course, Cale Makar. You have your shutdown guys in Erik Johnson and Ian Cole. None of those four are going to sit for Byram to play. Nor should Ryan Graves with the way he’s been playing.

Do you sit Nikita Zadorov? Sure, you could, and he’s been in and out of the doghouse all season. However, you want a presence like Zadorov in the playoffs — you need that kind of grit.

The Avalanche already have both Mark Barberio and Kevin Connauton in the wings ready to step in for Zadorov, too. And you shouldn’t discount when Conor Timmins gets to resume playing.

In other words, the path to the NHL isn’t as clear for Byram as it was just a year ago for Cale Makar, when he debuted in the playoffs.

That said, he’s going to make the team next season. I just don’t see Byram returning to the WHL next year, which he’d have to because he won’t be 20 nor will he have played four years in the major juniors.

So, why not let him come over and try a little NHL action until the playoffs? Then, the Colorado Avalanche has to ice its best playoff-run team, and I’m not sure that will include Byram at this stage.

What do you think?