Why the Colorado Avalanche should keep Bowen Byram

The trade deadline is fast approaching and Colorado has needs, but trading away Bowen Byram would be a mistake.
Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning
Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

March 8th is only a few weeks away and the Colorado Avalanche just stumbled through a nightmare road trip. Three paltry points out of a possible 12 since the All-Star break is bound to cause some panic among fans. The mock trades are flying fast and furious and a good number of them that I have seen are anchored by the proposal of the Avs dealing defenseman Bowen Byram.

Bo's production has been spotty this season, I'll concede that point. However, this last two-game outburst is a perfect example of why his potential just feels too tantalizing to give up on. Against Washington, Byram found his offensive instincts and assisted on two of Colorado's six goals. Then in Tampa Bay on Thursday, he was one of the Avs' only bright spots, netting two goals in a disappointing loss. When Byram can pick his spots to jump into the offense, he is doing just what the team wants. It is a major feature of the Avalanche’s game. The only Avs d-men who do it better are Cale Makar & Devon Toews. In other words, only the best defensive pair in pro hockey.

Speaking of Cale and Toewser, the guys had a rough one last time out. So much so that Bednar was splitting them up in that game to see if he could spark something and they still each finished the game with a -3 +/-. I point this out not to rag on players I love, but to add a little perspective. I think if you take the admittedly awful road trip as a whole most of Colorado's main stars all struggled. From Nathan MacKinnon (who was without a point for three-straight games for the first time since 2021) down the roster.

On the positive side, Nate also showed championship toughness in the most recent loss. He returned to the ice mere minutes after taking a puck to the face. Mind you this is in the same week that #29 went chin-first into the ice and had to leave late in the game against Florida. Any of the Avalanche are susceptible to bad stretches, particularly when things aren't going well overall.

Still, to honestly consider trading away a 22-year-old Bowen Byram is too big of a risk. Seeing Bo find his game against the Lightning gave me fond memories of the 2021-22 for obvious reasons. All-time in his short career Byram already has 12 playoff assists. Nine of those were on the way to the Cup win, but another three were tallied in just one series last season. Byram is a young man who plays up to big moments. I for one do not want to see him do that in another team's sweater.

I understand the logic of taking from a strength (Avs defensive depth) to fix a need (a more potent 2C). But I also happen to believe that in the postseason defensive depth is an advantage any contender needs. Avs faithful will likely remember how Samuel Girard went down in that now fabled cup run. If not for guys like Bowen Byram himself, or the then recently-acquired Josh Manson stepping up and contributing we very well might not have that championship to look back on today.

Before you say this means Sammy G should be on the block himself, because Colorado won with him out before; let me throw this bit of cold water on that idea. It's an absolute vibe killer from a team togetherness standpoint. Girard has very publicly come back after needed time in the Player Assistance Program as has been documented here on MHS. Add to that the similar situation with Valeri Nichushkin and I think any discussion of moving Girard in-season is a non-starter. I'd have to imagine that Big Val seeing any such news while he's still out would be among the most disheartening things for another key Avs player who needs support from the team and organization as a whole.

Trust me when I say that I too am very hyped up on Sam Malinski. His potential emergence for a cup run is still something Avs fans should be excited for. Ideally I think you'd actually consider using one of the expanded roster spots for him post-deadline and into the playoffs. That said, I feel as if some trade-hungry observers might also not realize that Malinski is 25. He is older than the more battle tested Bo, and the same age in fact as Girard, who also has years of experience in Colorado's system. Again, I point this out not to knock a guy I have high hopes for, but as a bit of a reality check.

Colorado does need to be open to being bold at the deadline. The market for a decent 2C seems to be a first-round pick. That still counts as a hefty price tag for a potential rental. But consider the fact that Malinski, the guy some think makes Bowen Byram expendable came undrafted to the Avalanche. Chris MacFarland and Joe Sakic can and will find value if forced to give up draft picks.

If you are still freaking out after the Avs worst stretch of the season, breathe deep and take solace in the knowledge that the roadtrip is over. A lot of open ice lies ahead. Colorado is still only a few games out of first in the division and we all know they are capable of so much better.