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Sabres Analysis

Sabres Grades: Bowen Byram

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Bowen Byram Buffalo Sabres season grades

Key trade deadline acquisition Bowen Byram got his feet wet in 18 games for Buffalo, coming in at number 16 on the Sabres Grades countdown. The organization traded their top scorer, Casey Mittelstadt, for the highly-touted defenseman, bringing in youth and big expectations from Colorado. A move for now and the future, the Sabres believe they have sealed their defensive core for years to come.

The Grading System

If you missed the introduction to the grading system, I’ve assigned letter grades to each Buffalo player based on game performance. The letter grades are assigned based on statistical computation, taking into account the following factors:

  • Production
  • Quality of offense
  • Quality of defense
  • Volume of offense
  • Volume of defense
  • Powerplay performance
  • Penalty kill performance
  • Penalties drawn and taken
  • Role
  • Minutes played

It’s important to understand that these player performance grades are solely based on the algorithm created, with the one exception being a game shortened by injury. A player who missed significant ice time due to injury was not docked for fewer minutes played. This eliminates the confusion of how well a player performs when available.

I went back and graded all 82 games this season for every player. This way, we fully understand the progression of each player’s performance on a game-by-game basis.

Also, a big thanks to Evolving-Hockey for the individual game data. They’re among the best in the business.

Here’s the grading scale in table form, for reference:

GradeLower LimitUpper Limit
A+92%100%
A85%92%
A-77%85%
B+69%77%
B62%69%
B-54%62%
C+46%54%
C38%46%
C-31%38%
D+23%31%
D15%23%
D-8%15%
F0%8%

Previous Sabres Grades: Zemgus Girgensons

Bowen Byram

Season Grade: C

Average: C

Consistency: C+

Boom %: F [0%]

Bust %: B+ [5.56%]

Drafted fourth overall in 2019, Byram was supposed to team with Cale Makar to give the Avalanche two elite, young defensemen. Instead, he slipped behind Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, and Josh Manson on the depth chart. General Manager Kevyn Adams sought to capitalize on the lack of opportunity for Byram, adding him to a pair of former first-overall picks, Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power, on the blueline.

Byram’s Sabres tenure started with a bang, scoring three goals and five points in his first four games. He then went scoreless in 11 of his next 12 games, before finishing strong with three points in his last three.

Bowen Byram Buffalo Sabres 2023-2024 season grades

As Byram’s play faded, he was moved off a pair with Dahlin. The move hindered his performance in both the offensive and defensive zones, forming a stretch of “lost” games. He never quite recovered, sending his trendline on an alarming downward trajectory.

He was coming off his worst season for the Avalanche as well, never able to settle in after a history of concussions. The development curve of a top-five draft-pick defenseman is enormous, suggesting that a big jump next season is possible.

Grade Distribution

Bowen Byram Buffalo Sabres 2023-2024 grade distribution

There are no grades from his time with the Avs this past season in the data, so we only have his 18 games to work with. There’s one “bust” performance in the mix, with a healthy dose of grades in the “B”-range.

The Sabres hope that, under new coach Lindy Ruff, Byram will shift these grades into the “C” to “A” range, instead of “D” to “B”. Top-end performances from the defenseman are what Buffalo is after.

Player Comps

Bowen Byram Buffalo Sabres player comps

Former Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella is not exactly the first name you’d like to see compared to Byram. Considering Byram’s elite shooting, combined with not much else added offensively, it makes more sense. K’Andre Miller is more intriguing as a comp, as his play-driving transition passing is much more of what you’d like to see from the Sabres’ newest addition.

As Byram progresses, you’ll see more recognizable names than East Amherst native Nick DeSimone, Johnathan Kovacevic, and Jayden Struble. In the meantime, there’s more left to be desired from a defenseman with 164 NHL games under his belt.

2024-2025 Early Outlook

Going over the potential pairs in Connor Clifton’s analysis, Byram could and probably should be reunited with Dahlin on the top pair. Owen Power has proven he can drive his pairing in his young career, which eases some of the burden on Byram.

He’s also in competition for a consistent role on the powerplay, which is nothing new to someone formerly on a three-defenseman unit with Toews and Girard. The Sabres could use him and Power together on the second unit. It’s also noteworthy that the right flank on the top unit could use a strong left-handed shooter.

2024-2025 will be somewhat of a make-or-break season for Byram, who will surely want to prove he still has an elite ceiling ahead of him.

 

Previous Sabres Season Grades

Prospects and Depth

Casey Mittelstadt, Kyle Okposo, and Erik Johnson

24. Jacob Bryson

23. Tyson Jost

22. Victor Olofsson

21. Eric Robinson

20. Ryan Johnson

19. Lukas Rousek

18. Connor Clifton

17. Zemgus Girgensons

16. Bowen Byram

15. Peyton Krebs

14. TBD

13. TBD

12. TBD

11. TBD

10. TBD

9. TBD

8. TBD

7. TBD

6. TBD

5. TBD

4. TBD

3. TBD

2. TBD

1. TBD