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NHL Draft

2020 Draft: Sourdif getting all the answers he needs from Byram

Forward prospect succeeding on, off the ice thanks in part to Vancouver teammate, 2019 Avalanche pick

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Every Thursday, NHL.com will look ahead to the 2020 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Justin Sourdif doesn't need to look far for help navigating his path to the 2020 NHL Draft.

The 17-year-old forward with Vancouver of the Western Hockey League only has to look across the locker room at teammate and Colorado Avalanche defenseman prospect Bowen Byram for any the advice he needs.

"Anything you ask, he went through the exact same thing," Sourdif (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) said of Byram, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche with the No. 4 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft. "With him, he'd act like a pro and show up to the rink. He knew what he needed to do. He'd stick to his same routines. He wouldn't change anything unless it wasn't working, but for him the same routines over and over again worked for him.

"The way he carried himself, the little things he does to get better on an off-day, it's something everyone can look at and learn from."

Sourdif, who has 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games, is No. 23 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2020 draft.

"He's a good player," Byram said. "He's really good on his edges, he's got really good skill, he plays physical, so he kind of brings it all. He's a really young guy, so to see him succeeding and doing well in the league, this year and last year as well, is really good for the team and his personal success as well."

As a WHL rookie last season Sourdif had 46 points (23 goals, 23 assists) in 64 regular-season games and eight points (two goals, six assists) in 17 playoff games. That success has carried into this season, but all along Sourdif has kept his eyes on Byram.

"No question Justin looks up to Bo (Byram) and knows what Bo accomplished last year and would love to do the same thing," Vancouver coach Michael Dyck said. "They've got a pretty good relationship. That's one thing that Bo's talked about as far as being a good role model for Justin, and how Bo handled the pressures last year being a draft pick and this year even having been a high draft pick and playing at a World Junior level only helps.

"It's one thing for us to take literature or interviews and try to teach guys about handling the pressures of playing at that level. It's another to sit right next to a guy and listen to him. Absolutely it helps."

Last season Byram played for Canada in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, played for Team WHL in the Canada Russia Series, took part in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and participated in the NHL Scouting Combine, in addition to playing 67 WHL regular-season games and 22 playoff games for Vancouver.

Sourdif started this season with five points (one goal, four assists) to help Canada finish second at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Then he had an assist for Team Red at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 16. And he'll almost certainly take part in the 2020 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo in May.

Mix in regular meetings with NHL teams throughout the season, and it can be a hefty schedule for any teenager.

Sourdif doesn't feel distracted though.

"You just kind of keep what's most important, and that's team-first, trying to win a championship and trying to make playoffs," he said. "Everything else comes after that. If you focus on playing your own game, the game you've been playing your whole life, and not trying to change anything just because it's your draft year, things will work out. That's kind of what I've figured out this year.

"Obviously just kind of keeping your head on straight and try to block out as much noise as possible is the best way to have a successful season."

Byram has another tip for his teammate, perhaps the most important one passed from one corner of the dressing room to the other.

Enjoy it.

"I think a lot of people, when put in those situations, don't enjoy what they're doing," Byram said. "Hockey's supposed to be fun. I just try to keep it light with him. He doesn't have to worry about too much, he just has to play and perform his best. That's all that really matters. That's how I went about it, anyways. I just try to help him out with that, but he seems to be handling it all pretty well. He's done a really good job so far, I think. He kind of learns as he goes. I talk to him about lots of things.

"But he's a smart guy. He picks up on little things really quickly."

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