If the Sabres were to move on from Rasmus Ristolainen prior to the draft, they would have a void on the blue line. The top prospect there is Bowen Byram, who ranks second among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting.
The Canadian defenseman is a true two-way player — get this: playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL he led all players, regardless of position, in playoff scoring, netting eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points in 22 games.
"I think that is a strong suit in my game, bringing the puck out, seeing plays and making plays at either blue line. I seem to be able to make plays under pressure there and that is something I will continue to work on for sure,” said Byram.
With as good as he already has proven to be — 71 points in 67 regular season games last year — he understands at just 17 years old, there is still work to be done.
"If I want to play in the NHL, I have to be good on both sides of the puck and that is what I have been working on lately,” said Byram.
Byram wants to be in the NHL next season, but bulking up his smallish 6’0”, 193 lb. frame is a priority.
"I'm confident in my abilities; I think I could play next year. Obviously I have a long way to go in the offseason strength-wise. I have to make some adjustments to my game to play there, but I am a confident guy and think I am ready to go,” said Byram.
If Jason Botterill does go defense, Byram would be a great left-handed shot to slot behind Rasmus Dahlin for years to come.
Next up we stay on the blue line with fast rising Victor Soderstrom.