Toronto Maple Leafs

Patric Sandin: The Toronto Maple Leafs Draft Dad Interview

We all wonder how a prospect feels on draft day. Did they get any sleep? Did they eat? Do they have an idea of who is interested in drafting them? What we never ask is how the parents are doing. How were they feeling? What was their son’s draft day like?

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Prospects and draft picks get all the attention on draft day, rightfully so. Who gets them there though? How do they feel about the process and day of the draft? Luckily enough, we were able to talk to Patric Sandin, the father of Toronto Maples Leafs 2018 first round pick Rasmus Sandin. With Fathers Day and the 2019 NHL Entry Draft all coming up very shortly, Patric Sandin was able to give us a few minutes of his time just before the Toronto Marlies conference finals series.

Patric Sandin, Hockey Dad

Tony Ferrari: Thank you for taking the time do do this with me today!

Patric Sandin: No problem!

TF: At what age did you realize that Rasmus was going to be a special player? 

PS: He was really early with everything, reading, speaking, cycling and in all sports. But I think I saw him as a special player when he was 13-14 years. Especially in the biggest hockey tournament in Sweden called TV-pucken. He was really good and was contributing big time when his team won the gold. 

TF: Rasmus has handled the pressure of the Toronto market well. He’s a smart young man and has shown that in the media. What was Rasmus’ personality like as a young child? 

PS: He was really outgoing and mature. He was always in the middle no matter if it was with older people or in his own age. He is the kindest person you’ll ever meet but if you do him wrong he will tell you.

TF: Smart man. Do you have a memory of Rasmus’ childhood that sticks out? Hockey or non hockey related? 

PS: One of many memorys is when I saw him on a bicycle for the first time. I was sitting in my livingroom and relaxed when I saw something coming down from a quite big slope. It was Rasmus four years old on his mothers bike doing like 30 km/h!

TF: That’s almost faster than I can ride now!

PS: It was crazy!

TF: Walk me through your day on the day Rasmus was drafted. What did you do while you waited? Did you speak with Kyle Dubas at all? 

PS: It was some intense and hot days in Dallas with meetings and everything. But on the draft day everything was chill. My family and agents were just waiting for the night. Nice breakfast and a powerwalk, then lunch out in the city. Then the nerves beginning to come. We met Rasmus who had some last minute meetings. He was cool as always. When we came to the arena (American Airlines Center) we began to realize what was gonna happen. One of our family’s biggest moment.

During the draft I saw for the first time that Rasmus was a little tense. I can’t blame him. Name after name was called. I had a strong belief in Toronto and I was really hoping for the Leafs. Then it was #29 pick and the TV and Media started to approach Rasmus. The pulse started to rush.

My feelings can’t be described when they called Rasmus name. It was a moment I never forget. 

After everything happened so fast. We met Mr. Dubas and Mr. Babcock after the draft, and we also met the whole Toronto management the day after when they had a reception. It was really cool to sit down with Coach Babcock for a beer. Really great people in the organization. 

TF: That sounds like a day of excitement and nerves all mixed in one. Did you or Rasmus have a favourite NHL team as he was growing up? 

PS: Toronto with Borje Salming was my favourite. I don’t know about Rasmus but I think it was Toronto for him too.

TF: I know you have another son, Linus, who is making his way with HV71 next season. Did the two boys compete with each other or were they supportive of each other? A mixture of both? 

PS: Linus always helped Rasmus and Rasmus was always allowed to play with the older boys. They are supertight and talks on the phone almost every day.

TF: As a father to two professional hockey players, what is the most important thing you taught your sons? 

PS: Always give 100%. Always be a good friend.

TF: Rasmus has impressed thus far with the Toronto Marlies. He is exceeding expectations and the fanbase is beginning to get excited about his arrival with the Leafs in the next year or so. What is going to be your first thought when he calls and tells you that Kyle Dubas has called him up to the Leafs? 

PS: I have to go book my flight to Toronto directly!

TF: The season and production that Rasmus has put up this year with the Marlies has made him the highest scoring 18-year-old defender in AHL history. Has that set in for you or him? 

 PS: No I don’t think so. Maybe after the season it will.

TF: Have you attended any of Rasmus’ games here in Toronto? If so, what was that experience like? 

PS: We went to Toronto in november and watched some Marlies game. It was really nice. Love Toronto. We also went to a Raptors game also. Nice game yesterday with the last second from Kawhi. (The “Kawhi Shot” just happened the day before we spoke initially).

TF: Finally, if your children were reading this and you could give them one piece of Fatherly advice, what would it be? 

PS: Be good and treat people like you want to be treated. 

As you can see, the day of the draft and everything leading up and after are almost as nerve wracking for fathers as it is their sons. The path the professional hockey is a long and extremely hard it’s to take. Not everyone makes it there. Some don’t make it to the NHL. It’s a journey that is made so much easier by loving family, friends and a father who does everything in his power to make sure their child doesn’t hurt themselves riding a bike down a hill at 30km/h. Patric Sandin is one of many examples of a father doing his best to push their son to their peak and letting him grow into a mature young man looking to carve his career out on the ice of a National Hockey League arena.

Special Thank you to Patric Sandin for giving me your time! You were outstanding!

Puck 77 NHL Draft Scouting Reports

We’ve compiled all of the scouting reports done by the various members of the Puck77 team for the NHL Draft here in one easy location so you can jump right to the player you want!

Our Top-12

1. 🇺🇸 Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Jack Hughes by Tony Ferrari

2. 🇫🇮 Kaapo Kakko, RW, TPS (Liiga): Deep Dive Scouting Report of Kaapo Kakko by Tony Ferrari

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3. 🇺🇸 Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Turcotte by Tony Ferrari

4. 🇨🇦 Bowen Byram, LHD, Vancouver Giants (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Bowen Byram by Tony Ferrari

5. 🇺🇸 Trevor Zegras, C/LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Trevor Zegras by Tony Ferrari

6. 🇨🇦 Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Dylan Cozens by Tony Ferrari

7. 🇺🇸 Cole Caufield, LW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Cole Caufield by Tony Ferrari

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8. 🇨🇦 Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon Blades (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Kirby Dach by Tony Ferrari

9. 🇨🇦 Alex Newhook, C, Vancouver Grizzlies (BCHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Alex Newhook by Tony Ferrari

10. 🇨🇦 Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice (WHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Peyton Krebs by Tony Ferrari

11. 🇺🇸 Matthew Boldy, RW, USNTDP: Deep Dive Scouting Report on Matthew Boldy by Tony Ferrari

12. 🇷🇺 Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL): Deep Dive Scouting Report on Vasili Podkolzin by Tony Ferrari

Other Intriguing Prospects

2019 NHL Draft: What makes Philip Tomasino such an intriguing prospect? by Spencer Loane

2019 NHL Draft Deep Dive: Arthur Kaliyev by Spencer Teixeira

NHL Draft Profile: Nolan Foote by Spencer Teixeira

Come back for more profiles as they are updated and added! Thanks for stopping by!

Clearing the Puck! Your Weekly Look at the World of Hockey!

Welcome back to Clearing the Puck for the week of June 1st to 7th! This week we look more at the Stanley Cup Finals and the NHL Entry Draft! I also shamelessly show my love for the Toronto Raptors again!

Incase this is your first time, here is the rundown. What we’re going to be doing at Puck77 is putting out a weekly recap. There are going to be observations, summaries and some cool things that we noticed around the web from the NHL and the world of hockey from the last week. There will be 10 points every Saturday morning. Included will be links to articles from our website as well as many others to help fill you in on some of the best hockey and NHL content from around the web. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week!

Brett Hull is Fired Up!

You have to love when teams bring back some of the legends. It’s a big thing around sports and hockey is no different. This week the St. Louis Blues brought out Brett Hull prior to game four. The Blues Executive VP was fired up when addressing the crowd and it seemed to pump up the team and the crowd. He also flipped off the Boston Bruins bench during the game.


Tweet courtesy of @NHLonNBCSports

Craig Button’s Draft Rankings

The topic of the draft world on Thursday was the release of TSN Head Scout Craig Button’s 2019 Draft Rankings. The reason for that was what some called complete lack of effort and insight outside of their Elite Prospects page. I am not going to go into the actual rankings or even the errors in the small blurbs that were attached to each prospect. What I will say is that at a bare minimum, we should respect his rankings.

Craig Button has been an NHL general manager, scout and involved in hockey in many ways that most of us could only dream of. Whether or not you agree with his rankings, many of which I personally don’t, you shouldn’t attack the man. Criticize his ranking, point out that there were errors in the stats listed and the blurbs but there are too many times where people were attacking Button and calling for his job. Let’s be honest, we would kill to be in his position and he’s worked hard. This year his rankings were bad in many eyes, but he has the pedigree and connections that could be giving him information that he used. Yes he should have double checked (or have a TSN intern do it) and it poorly reflects on him and his rankings. Attack the rankings if you must, but stop attacking the human being. Be kind to your fellow human being.

Bruins Experience Poor Officiating, Oh no…

So we all know that the Bruins have played “Bruins hockey” all playoffs long. From Brad Marchand punching guys in the back of the head to Zdeno Chara uppercutting John Tavares in a scrum, the Bruins know how to play on the line better than any other team. The officiating in the post-season has been questionable to say the least, but the Bruins have been the beneficiary more often than not this year.

Until now. As game four of the Stanley Cup finals started getting closer to the finish with the Blues holding a 1-0 lead the Bruins got their taste of the officiating. Tyler Bozak skates towards the puck carrier, Noel Acciari, and blatantly trips him. The trip disrupts the pass which St. Louis recovers and then scores to put the Blues up 2-0.


Tweet courtesy of @BradyTrett

Making this situation all the more painful for Bruins fans was the fact that Jake DeBrusk scored almost right away, which conceivably could have tied the game. Now we don’t know if that goal happens with the game playing out differently but it’s undeniable that this stings for Boston. So much so that fans were fighting each other in the stands. Again, be kind people.


Tweet courtesy of @theTonyFerrari

Officiating disasters of this post season!

Speaking of terrible officiating, Rogers Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen put out an article on Friday summarizing some of the worst calls of the playoffs. I’m not going to go into it a ton, but I will say that there are three teams that seemed to have benefitted the most. The Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and most of all, the San Jose Sharks. You can read Rory’s piece here.

Puck77 Draft Rankings

The Puck77 site rankings came out last weekend! There was a lot of movement from our previous rankings. How far did Caufield rise? Did Kakko overtake Hughes? Who slipped into the end of the top-31? You can check the rankings out below!

https://twitter.com/thepuck77/status/1134795135982682112?s=21
Tweet courtesy of @thePuck77

Chara doesn’t care about his face!

Zdeno Chara is a freak. He’s a massive man, listed at 6’9″ and 250lbs. He is a future Hall of Famer. He has won the Norris Trophy as the leagues best defenceman. He also doesn’t care about his face. During game three, Chara was attempting to disrupt a shot when the puck deflected cleanly off his stick and struck him directly in the face.


Tweet courtesy of @HockeyNight

After dealing with the blood and injury during the intermission, the Bruins captain came back to the bench to help cheer his team on with a full face shield. He didn’t play the remainder of that game despite being on the bench in the third. He did however, suit up for the Bruins in game four and played 16:42 of the game and while he wasn’t 100% he was effective at times with his long reach and strength in the defensive zone. Chara is an animal.

Puck77 NHL Draft Profiles

This week Puck77 released our NHL Draft Profile Deep Dives for the top dozen prospects on our rankings. In the profiles you can find a scouting report, some basic stats and advanced stats, video with quick analysis and a review of their season. They are arguably some of the most in-depth free profiles on these players. Enjoy reading them and prepare for the draft with Puck77! You can find them below, linked to each player.

Jack Hughes

Kaapo Kakko

Alex Turcotte

Bowen Byram

Trevor Zegras

Dylan Cozens

Cole Caufield

Kirby Dach

Alex Newhook

Peyton Krebs

Matthew Boldy

Vasili Podkolzin

Erik Karlsson finally gets his groin fixed

https://twitter.com/sanjosesharks/status/1136374623606583296?s=21
Tweet courtesy of @SanJoseSharks

Erik Karlsson is one of the best defencemen of our generation. He’s one of the all-time greats with multiple Norris trophy wins. During his playoff run with San Jose, Karlsson looked absolutely hobbled. His hamstring injury plagued him all season and in the playoffs, it was so much worse. San Jose confirmed this week that Karlsson had surgery to repair the injury. It’s a welcome sight because the all-time great is looking to sign his big-money contract. Hopefully, for the sake of hockey, Erik Karlsson recovers fully and we can start watching him make extraordinary plays again. This was mostly my excuse to watch Karlsson highlights.

Video courtesy of the Hockey Brothers Youtube channel

Podcasts to get you through the summer!

With the NHL season almost over, I figured I’d throw some podcast out here to listen to while you pass the time in the summer. Some are hockey, some aren’t, but here’s a solid list of stuff I’m listening to and stuff I want to get together.

Steve Dangle Podcast (Leafs Centric, all NHL)

Hockey PDOcast (NHL General, stats)

Staff and Graph podcast (NHL General, stats, strategy)

Winged Wheel Podcast (Red Wings centric)

Always Aggravated (Sports General, pop culture)

Andrew Berkshire Podcast (Movies/Superheroes)

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin (history, long form)

What Really Happened? (A look back at historical events)

Atlanta Monster/Monster: Zodiac (Crime, History)

Full 60 (Hockey General, Athletic subscription required)

Puck Soup (Hockey General, Athletic subscription required)

Most of these fantastic podcasts can be found on Apple Podcast, Google, Spotify or any other podcast app or pod-catcher that you may use!

Raptors go up 3-1!

This is a hockey blog but the Toronto Raptors fever that’s overtaken Canada has been a blast! I won’t go crazy into analysis but it’s a big deal for Canada! So here’s this gem from Shaw after the Raps win over the Golden State Warriors to go up 3-1 in the NBA finals and come that much closer to Canada bringing a Championship home in the four major sports for the first time since the Blue Jays in 1993!

Video courtesy of TSN YouTube channel

NHL Draft Profile: Peyton Krebs

Krebs is a hard-nosed competitor who has a nose for points. The shifty forward mixes a high top-speed with the ability to stop-and-start like an NFL wide receiver. Krebs ability to get to top speed is a tool that helps him blow by defenders with ease and then change direction to open up space for him to make a play to his teammates. He produced at a high rate for a weak, underpowered Kootenay Ice team.

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Name: Peyton Krebs

Date of Birth: January 26, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): Canadian (Okotoks, AB, Canada)

Hieght: 5’11”

Weight: 181lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: C/LW

Ranking

Ranked #9 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Krebs’ INV% (involvement percentage gauges how involved a player is on goals by a team) is among the best in his peer group. The one galring weakness in the graoh above is Krebs goals for percentage (GF%). As a playmaker primarily, Krebs isn’t a huge goal scorer despite showing the tools to add it to his game. The interesting thing is that his GF% Relative to his teammates is actually the best of the group. This would imply that although Krebs doesn’t score a large quantity of goals, he is still a driving force on his team in that department which is a primary factor is Krebs having to carry the Ice throughout the season. 

Peyton Krebs is an outstanding skater. The play-making pivot is great at taking creative paths through the neutral and offensive zones, finding space between defenders. Krebs, one of the highest-motor players in the draft, is like a dog on a bone when the puck isn’t on his stick. His ability to shift his weight and change direction at a moments notice makes him incredibly difficult to defend one-on-one. His edge work in all three areas of the ice is excellent. His ability to change the pace of play, whether slowing it down or speeding it up, makes him difficult to read in translation. In the video below, the Canadian captain does a good job establishing position in front of the net. Once there, Krebs hold his ground and does a good job of getting his stick on the shot a tipping the go ahead goal.  

Tweet coutesy of @TSN_Sports

In the defensive end, he is a hard worker and a player who makes an effort to be in position to break up passes. Krebs isn’t bad in his own end of the ice, but his positioning can lose some lustre when hemmed into the defensive zone. He seems to get over-eager to get the puck back and, at times, gets running around a bit. His active stick does a good job at interrupting passing plays. He uses his advanced hockey-IQ to read a play, react and make the smart play most of the time. He is excellent at picking up a loose puck, turning up the ice and start a break out. His strong skating, rapid acceleration due to a great first stride and his ability to shift from left to right and stay balanced with the puck allows him to break the puck out with ease and efficiency.

When entering the offensive zone, he rarely does the expected, often taking a unique path to wherever he wants to go on the ice. His vision allows him to pass the puck at any moment, often making passes to dangerous areas from positions where he doesn’t have a scoring chance. He works extremely well from the half-wall and behind the net. These positions allow Krebs to see the ice and make the appropriate play. An adept passer, the slightly undersized pivot is excellent and putting saucer passes on the tape of teammates.

Krebs is a playmaker at heart but he does possess a quick release on his wrist shot. He often backs defenders off with his speed and then uses them as a screen. His wrist shot is hard and accurate but his slap shot and one-timer could use some work. The expectation is that they will both improve with physical maturity. In the video below, Krebs recovers the puck in the defensive zone behind his own net. He builds speed through the defensive zone and passes the puck off the the wall in the neutral zone. Receiving a return pass, Krebs burst of speed backs the defender off until Krebs passes right by him getting an excellent chance on net. 

Tweet courtesy of @AthaniouLater

Preseason Outlook

Heading into the season as the top scoring WHL rookie from the year prior, Krebs was making the transition from the left wing to center. His 54 points in 67 games were impressive and he displayed his playmaking ability with 37 assists in his freshman season. As the top pick in the 2016 WHL draft, Krebs is the centrepiece of the Kootenay Ice (Winnipeg Ice starting next season). Although the team has struggled, Krebs was able to produce at a good rate without much help around him.

Prior to this season, Krebs competed for Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky U18 tournament. There he displayed good quickness and excellent vision. He finished the tournament with five points in five games. Krebs could have easily had many more points as he was a set-up machine throughout the tournament and the recipients often missed open nets or fired the puck into the goalies chest. The excellent video below from Hockey Prospect Center shows many of the chances that Krebs generated throughout the tournament.

https://youtu.be/3HYz8jtiXA4

Carrying Kootenay, Receiving the “C”

Understanding that the season in Kootenay would be a trying one, Peyton Krebs did a good job at staying engaged in the season. His play this year never lacked effort or passion. Krebs pushed himself to continue to improve in all areas of the ice. Defensively he began to compete harder and was relentless at fighting for the puck. The ultra-competitive Krebs began the season producing at a point-per-game clip. This production, along with his constant drive to develop in all areas of the game, led the Ice to name the Okotoks, Alberta native the captain of the team. The leadership role was embraced by Krebs. The clear best player on a team that was struggling was also the hardest worker. Krebs was always the player for the Ice that pushed that extra gear to keep the team competitive in games throughout the year.

In the video below, Krebs does an excellent job driving to the net in control. Once in front, he does an excellent job establishing position by battling with a bigger defender. Winning the net front shoving match, Krebs was able to find the puck and get it to the back of the net. This showed off the fiery and competitive nature of the young Canadian center who proved throughout the season that he can play bigger than his physical make-up would suggest.

Tweet courtesy of @DraftAnalyst

Heading into the new year, Krebs had 43 points in 39 games. Krebs continued to produce on the struggling team. Without much help around him, Krebs continued to carry the Ice to the little success the team had. The team was often blown out and the losses piled up, picking up their 10th win of the season on January 16th. Finishing near the bottom of the WHL, Kootenay found their new captain but the dismal performance would lead to bigger picture changes for the Ice.

Kootenay Chapter Ends, Captain Canada Begins

The Ice were on the move to Winnipeg. A late January announcement confirmed the rumours and the final stages of the season were trying after the announcement. Winning only three of the final 18 games, the Ice closed out their final season in Kootenay in disappointing fashion. Despite the competitive drive and offensive production from Krebs, Kootenay‘s team was on its way to the Manitoba capital.

After Krebs season, knowing the next one would be spent in a different city, he turned his attention to national glory. Making the Canadian U18 team Krebs impressed in pre-tournament play, being named captain of a team for the second time in five months. Finishing as the tied for top Canadian scorer and fifth in the tournament with teammate Alex Newhook, with 10 points in just seven games.

Video courtesy of Puck Progidy Youtube channel

The Canadian team had a strong roster on paper but failed to gel. The chemistry never materialized and the skill carried them to the bronze medal game against the rival Americans. The stacked US team surprisingly lost to Russia in the semi-finals and took out their frustrations on Canada. Despite the game finishing 5-2, the game never get close for the Canadian squad. Krebs led the Canadians to a fourth place finish, losing the bronze medal game to another underachiever in the Americans.

What the Detractors Say

As with any prospect, there are weak spots in Krebs game and like many, one of them is size. At 5’11” and 181lbs, the Winnipeg Ice forward is stalky but could help himself with a good summer or two in the weight room. Bulking up a little bit by putting on good muscle mass will allow him to continue to play his game at the next level. His tenacious attitude and relentless style of play demands a lot of him physically, doing so against men will be even more difficult. Adding some size will aid him in that endeavor.

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The most glaring weakness in the young prospects arsenal is his lack of dynamic scoring ability. He has yet to hit 20 goals in the WHL, despite putting up 68 points this season. He has all the tools to get himself into position to score, his finishing ability isn’t terrible and he has an accurate shot. Krebs issue is that he often looks off shots and passes the puck. He could look to be more selfish in the future, allowing himself to score more goals to supplement his playmaking ability. Krebs biggest asset is his vision and ability to play off the rush using his speed, he will need to rely on both to create chances for himself by being more self reliant.

Peyton Krebs will be taken…

In the 8-12 range. Krebs is one of the players that sit near the back end of the second tier. He has tools that entice, but players ahead of him have a more complete set of tools. Krebs is really hurt in his lack of goal scoring. He was a play driver for Kootenay and created a lot more chances than they could have expected with the limited cast around him however his tendency to pass up on scoring opportunities to create for his teammates and a tendency to hold onto the puck for a bit too long can get him into trouble. Despite his flaws, Krebs will have a good shot at sticking in the middle come his NHL time because

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com

NHL Draft Profile: Bowen Byram

The top defender in the draft, Byram is a silky smooth skater. The WHL leading scorer, as a defenceman, has taken hold of the rankings and pulled himself ahead at every turn. The offensive skillset and defensive potential is what is separating Byram from the rest of the blue-line group.

Embed from Getty Images

Name: Bowen Byram

Date of Birth: June 13, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): Canadian (Cranbrook, BC, Canada)

Hieght: 6’0″

Weight: 183lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: D

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown in the graph, Byram excels in all areas. The CAT% (both offensive and defensive) are a product of even strength goals for percentage relative to their team. Will Scouch broke it down into offensive and defensive areas and renamed them catalyst percentage. For a more in-depth explanation from the man himself, you can watch the video here. As you can see, the NHL eScore is the highest among defenders in this draft making him most likely to make an NHL impact. 

As the only defenceman in this draft that projects as a true top-pairing defender, Byram excels or shows promise in every part of the game. In his own zone, Byram is able to use his excellent skating to close the gap on opposing players and isn’t afraid to close out along the boards. His ability to lay the body without losing sight of the puck and make a play without missing a step is the key to his defensive game. He doesn’t panic under pressure and confidently handles the puck. Makes the smart play in his own zone, often waiting the extra second as a play develops while a forecheck is barring down on him.

Byram is more than capable of winning battles both in the corners and in front of the net. He is strong on the puck and doesn’t get pushed off the puck against bigger forwards. The smooth skating defender is often able to take away passing lanes and prevent defenders in front of the net from making a difference. His strength will need to improve and mature over the next 18 months in order to truly have a chance make an impact on an NHL roster but the foundation of a smart, physical defensive game is there.

His skating is elite. He has the ability to go in any direction at a high rate of speed with efficiency. Able to transition from forward to backward, he is able to keep an opponent to the outside and has an active stick that forces the opposition to keep the puck in an ineffective position, often leading to a loose puck or poke check from Byram. He is able to transition from defence to offence is outstanding, displaying his high-end offensive awareness. With his NHL-ready first few strides and acceleration to his top-speed, Byram is able to change the pace of play and push the puck up the ice as a one-man wrecking machine through the neutral zone. In the video below, Bryam shows off his skating and edge work by changing directions to brush off a defending forward at the blue line before venturing deep into the zone. This draws in defenders and opens a passing lane which Byram takes advantage of without skipping a beat. 

Tweet courtesy of @Hockey_Robinson

In the offensive zone Byram uses his best tool, his skating, to his advantage. With the ability to run a power play as the quarterback, he is truly able to make a difference on special teams. Constantly gliding up and down the boards and across the blue-line to create an open look for a pass to a high danger area. His slap shot is good but his snap shot is the weapon that generates the best scoring chances. Whether it’s used as he pinches down to the circles or off the rush, he is able to put an heavy, accurate shot on net. He possesses outstanding vision and is able to pass to any area of the ice with efficiency. He is one of the true two-way defenders in this draft class and is high-level at both ends of the ice but his transitional play is what separates Byram from every other defender in this draft. In the video below, Byram shows an ability to read the play as it develops and gets to open ice to receive a pass that he was able to immediately fire into the back of the net. 

Tweet courtest of @TheDraftAnalyst 

Preseason Outlook

Preparing to take a leadership role on the Vancouver Giants of the WHL this season, the young blue-liner had a good summer prior to his draft-eligible season. He came into the Gretzky-Hlinka tournament in the summer as one of Canada’s best defenders. He provided Canada with a good two-way game with four points (1G, 3A) in five games on route to the gold medal. He showed all of his abilities in the tournament that made him the rookie of the year in the WHL as a 16-year-old in 2017-18. The promise that was flashed a ton in his rookie season was affirmed against the best of the best in his age group, setting the stage for an outstanding draft year.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

Tearing up the WHL

The reigning rookie of the year began the season looking to build on a solid freshman year in 2017-18 where he had 27 points in 60 games. The silky skater began the season strong as he put up 14 points in the first 18 games, looking like a true number-one defenceman early into his sophomore campaign. His creativity offensively began to flourish and his confidence grew throughout the season.

The maturity of his game began to show as he learned to adapt his habits on both ends of the ice. Defensively he began to engage physically, showing his strength after a good summer of growth. Offensively he began to use his shot much more both on the rush and at the point. He used his lateral quickness to open shooting lanes and his phenomenal edge work allows him to pivot deeper into the zone at a moments notice or transition to defence and cut the angle off to the puck carrier.

Video courtesy of Hockey Prospect Center Youtube channel

His regular season was outstanding as he was named a first-team Western Conference All-star for the 2018-19 season. His impressive 71 points in 67 games was good for third in the WHL among all defenders and his 26 goals outpaced every blue-liner in the league. The only two rear guards to put up higher offensive totals were 19-year-old Josh Brook and 20-year-old Dawson Davidson, both with 75 points. As a 17-year-old, he was more than able to play an effective defensive game, engaging physically without taking himself out of plays like many young defenders do.

Leading the WHL playoffs in scoring

Whatever we thought of Byram’s game before the playoffs, the young D-man was an absolute stud for the Vancouver Giants run to the WHL final. Leading the entire playoffs in scoring from the backend with 26 points. Byram lead all players in scoring by edging Prince Albert Raiders over-ager Brett Leason by one point. The next closest defenceman was 10 points back, 20-year-old teammate Dylan Plouffe.

Bowen Byram was an absolute workhorse for Vancouver. He was a monster on both ends of the ice, making plays defensively and offensively. His game took a step that drove the Cranbrook, British Columbia native straight up draft boards. His play during the postseason inspired his top-pair defender projections, something no other defender in this class has.

What the Detractors Say

The most prominent complaints in Byram’s game are the excess minute that the Giants played him and the fact that he has sometimes been caught out of position. The later happened because he trusts himself to take risks due to his ability to get back into position with his elite skating ability. He will have to develop a better sense for when to jump into the rush at the next level but mistakes like this tend to work themselves out as a young defender matures. As for being overplayed and looking worn out once in a while, he took on the large role from the Giants coaching staff and developed into a leader during the season. He may have been playing a few too many minutes during the season but the point totals and skillset allowed him to do so while not looking too far out of his depth.

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Bowen Byram will be taken…

In the top-five. The last time a defender wasn’t selected in the top-five was the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. The first blue-liner selected that year was Ryan Suter at 7th overall by the Nashville Predators. The likelyhood that a team such as the Los Angeles Kings pass up on Byram is slim unless they fall in love with a forward. If for some reason Byram isn’t selected by the Kings, the Detroit Red Wings will be salivating as they run over other teams draft tables to get to the podium. Byram has the highest ceiling of all the defenders in this draft and he’s completely separated himself from all other rearguards in the class.