The Red Wings have the blue line in mind this time around in our SB Nation NHL Mock Draft — with the 6th overall pick, Detroit selects defenseman Bowen Byram from the Vancouver Giants out of the WHL.
Going into this years Mock, I was poised to select a forward. We were really hoping that Alex Turcotte would still be around, but the Blackhawks took him early at 3rd overall. So with that, I took the best player available, and I think it’s very interesting that Byram fell as far as he did. I figured he would be a lock in the top-five.
Age: 17 (Jun. 13, 2001)
Hometown: Cranbrook, BC, CAN
Weight: 194 lbs
College commitment: Wisconsin
NHL comparison: Duncan Keith
Let’s get this out of the way first — Byram was the best player on his team, and after an excellent 2018-2019 season, he was the lead scorer in the WHL playoffs (8-18—26) — yes, out of all players, not just defensemen. It was before the playoffs began that Byram established himself as the top defensive prospect in the 2019 class. Byram stacked up 71 points (26-45—71) in 67 games.
Among all of the things he’s praised for, his skating ability is perhaps at the top of the list. He’s an explosive, shifty player who plays with a real edge on the backend — something the Red Wings not only love to have in a player, but something they desperately need more of.
Now that we’ve got the skinny out of the way, I’ll explain how this pick shook out for us this year. Here’s a look at the Mock so far:
- Devils — Jack Hughes (C)
- Rangers — Kappo Kakko (RW)
- Blackhawks — Alex Turcotte (C)
- Avalanche (via Senators) — Kirby Dach (C)
- LA Kings — Dylan Cozens (C/RW)
The very first player on my shortlist was Alex Turcotte along with Cole Caufield, Bowen Byram, Trevor Zegras, and Vasili Podkolzin. Turcotte saw his stock surge later in the season, so it’s not strange to me that he went early. The next on my list was Caufield, who I have been a strong advocate for — even before going “God Mode” at the U18 WJC. It came down to Byram and Caufield.
Now, I’ve gotten to see a lot more of Caufield play than Byram. So, I took what resources I had, and decided that adding another potential 1D to the cupboard should always be a priority. For closer analysis, I turned to Pronman’s opinion from a recent article:
Byram may not have the skill level of John Klingberg or the skating of P.K. Subban, but he does everything at a good if not very good level. He’s such a smooth player. His skating and pace of play will translate to the NHL immediately.
In the NHL, Byram will be able to generate clean exits and entries with his skating and passing. He can create offense off the blue line and with his skill. He’ll be able to score goals. He’ll be able to defend good players due to his skating, sense and physicality.
The high praise isn’t only coming on one front — most writers, scouts, and analysts have lauded Byram’s ability to be a driving for for his team night-in, and night-out. One thing I do disagree with on Pronman’s front — Byram appears to have the skating ability of a P.K. Subban, or Brent Burns. What stands out, of course, is his offense. Anytime a defenseman is a near-30-goal-scorer, even in the juniors, you just attend to pay attention. He appears to have a decent shot, and a knack for joining the rush, which is good news for whoever drafts him, because his skating ability compliments that well.
How does he fit?
This is an easy question to answer. It’s my opinion that the Red Wings need help on most fronts, and it’s likely everyone’s opinion that they need it most on defense. Byram plays a mobile style, much like Duncan Keith or Victor Hedman that mixes well in the NHL style of play. As Steve Yzerman takes on the role of revitalizing the organization, adding the best defenseman in the draft could certainly be a priority.
All-in-all, I think Byram is one player you could see in the NHL sooner rather than later. I don’t see it going into next season, as he will likely return to the WHL, but there’s no reason to think that Yzerman and his crew will want to see what this kid has early on in his development, much like what he did with Mikhail Sergachev.
How do you feel about Bowen Byram at No. 6?
This poll is closed
Not sold on him