Everything is bigger in Texas, and Tyler Myers
, born in Houston, certainly fits that mold.
Myers stands a towering 6-foot-7 and 204 pounds, and while he looks like the prototypical defensive defenseman, he is surprisingly mobile for a player with such a large frame. Myers, selected No. 12 in the 2008 Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, is two inches shorter than Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, who is the tallest player in the NHL.
"I feel I'm a strong skater," Myers said. "I can move the puck well, see up the ice pretty well. I feel I'm relied on in the defensive zone and I have offensive ability."
Myers has been trusted in his own zone by the brass of the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets, where he uses his considerably long reach to his advantage.
"Obviously, being that height my reach is a big advantage for me," Myers said. "My stick is probably taller than most of the guys on my team, so that helps a lot."
Houston isn't exactly a hockey hotbed, but Myers was drawn to the game after seeing the Minnesota Wild's American Hockey League affiliate, the Houston Aeros, and he hasn't looked back.
"I was about 6-years-old and my dad took me to a Houston Aeros game," Myers said. "And the next morning we were in the local pro shop buying equipment. At that time in Houston, hockey wasn't that big so there weren't many leagues. I got into just exhibition games and just loved it ever since."
Myers moved to Calgary, when he was 10 and played his minor hockey in Calgary before playing for Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. According to Myers, his time in Wilcox was an integral developmental stop before getting the chance to play in Kelowna.
"I think that was the best developing year for me to (prepare) for the WHL and the next level," Myers said. "It was a physical league, and that's what I needed to take that next step. When they called me up (to Kelowna), I felt I was ready for it."
Despite his slim build, Myers was one of the more physical defensemen available in the draft, and Kelowna coach Ryan Huska said Myers uses his stick better than most while defending.
"The one thing with Tyler is that his size is something that you can't teach," said Huska. "He's very big and for a guy his size, he skates very well. He's very fluid on the ice. For a younger guy, he's got a lot of composure with the puck. I think that's one of the reasons why a lot of NHL scouts are fairly high on him right now ... he's starting to understand that he can use his size to his advantage in our own zone. He's becoming a really good player defensively. His stick is so good and he makes it very difficult for opponents to get around him in the defensive zone."
Most large players have trouble with small, speedy forwards, particularly since the NHL has tweaked its game to feature more scoring chances, but Myers can hold his ground against high-skill forwards.
"He is not often burned by the small, quick players," said NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire. "Because of the emphasis in today's NHL on a lack of restraining type of play, I think Tyler has adjusted well to that and is more ready to play in the new NHL than a lot of the other smaller players."
Myers may be able to crack the Sabres lineup out of training camp because Buffalo has sustained some serious losses to their blue line in the last year. All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell was dealt on trade-deadline day, and Dmitri Kalinin left in free agency.
Buffalo General Manager Darcy Regier acquired Craig Rivet from San Jose, but there are just five defensemen in the organization -- Rivet, Jaroslav Spacek, Toni Lydman, Henrik Tallinder and Nathan Paetsch -- who have played more than two NHL seasons, which leaves at least one job to be won come September. With a little luck, a super-sized body and a tremendously long reach, that spot could have Myers' name on it.