With the 2019 NHL Draft approaching, the Blackhawks will make their highest pick since 2007 - when they selected a teenager from Buffalo named Patrick Kane first overall. This week, Blackhawks.com will take a look at five top prospects Chicago will likely be considering if consensus top picks Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are off the board in Vancouver.
First up is puck-moving defenseman Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants:
Vancouver Giants (2016-2019)
- Finished third among WHL defensemen with 71 points (26G, 45A) this season.
- Byram's 26 points during the 2019 WHL Playoffs led all skaters.
- First defensemen in WHL history to lead the league in postseason scoring.
- Helped the Giants reach the Ed Chynoweth Cup Final.
- First defenseman in Vancouver history to record five points in a game (2G, 3A vs. Kamloops on Jan. 12)
Team Canada (2017-2019)
- Represented Canada at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and 2018 World Under-18 Championship.
- Helped lead Canada to Gold at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup
- Finished second among Canadian defensemen at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup with four points (1 G, 3 A).
What They're Saying
"While he's not the unanimous pick among scouts to be the first defenseman chosen this year, Byram is almost certainly going to be that guy...Simply put, Byram has run numbers wherever he has gone this year, from the WHL to the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament." - The Hockey News (#6 prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft, #1 Defenseman)
"Byram is a high-end skater with the ability to lead a rush and close gaps. He's got quick-twitch feet and a great first step. He's very active with his skating, as I often see him join rushes and lead ones, and he can activate well off the blue line." - Corey Pronman, The Athletic (#4 prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft, #1 Defenseman)
"Byram is easily the top defenseman in this draft class. He skates like the wind, can quarterback his team, and as evidenced by the 33 goals he has scored through the WHL Conference Finals (including regular season), he can score from the blueline. He is also not a "mere" offensive defenseman, as he is poised in his own zone and does not shy away from physical play." - Ryan Wagman, Yahoo Sports (#5 prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft, #1 Defenseman)
BLOG: Dan Marr sees Byram rising up draft board
What He's Saying
Video: Bowen Byram on confidence