Bowen Byram was recovering from an illness when he found out he was being traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Casey Mittelstadt on March 6.

The Sabres were just hours away from opening a back-to-back set in Toronto and rather than meeting the team back in Buffalo, Byram rushed to gather his belongings to meet his new team in Nashville for the second game of the set.

Byram was excited to be reunited with his former Team Canada teammates and friends – Dylan Cozens, Peyton Krebs, and Jack Quinn – but understood the transition would be a whirlwind.

“It's never easy, to be honest. One day you’re in one city and the next day you’re in another one with a lot of stuff in between,” he said. “(I was) fortunate to get traded to a team where I know a lot of guys and had a lot of friends on the team, so I was grateful for that.”

Bo Byram addresses the media

The 22-year-old arrived at Bridgestone Arena on March 7 to take part in his first morning skate as a member of the Sabres after recording 20 points in 55 games while averaging 19:51 of ice time for the Avalanche prior to the trade.

The fourth-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft brought with him a wealth of experience, having already made it to the playoffs three times in his first three seasons with Colorado and having won the Stanley Cup with the team in 2022.

Byram wasted no time showcasing his talent in his Sabres debut as he tallied his first goal with the team when he beat Juuse Saros with a wrist shot on just his third shift of the game before assisting on an Owen Power goal in the third.

Power wasn’t at all surprised by Byram, who became the first defenseman acquired by Buffalo in a trade to record a goal in his debut with the Sabres since Alexei Zhitnik did so in 1995 and just the third to post multiple points in his debut, joining John Van Boxmeer and Lee Fogolin.

“I think everyone knew coming in he’s an elite talent,” Power said after the game.

Byram was placed in an important role immediately upon his arrival in Buffalo, playing on the top defense pair alongside Rasmus Dahlin while appearing on both the power play and penalty kill. He went on to record five points (3+2) in his first four games with the Sabres, including a pair of goals in Buffalo’s 7-3 win over Detroit on March 12 to move within five points of a playoff spot.

He became the first defenseman in Sabres history to score three or more goals through his first three games with the franchise, paving the way to single-season career highs in goals (11), assists (18), points (29), and games played (73) with Colorado and Buffalo in 2023-24.

Byram ended his first month and a half with the Sabres with nine points (3+6) in 18 games, including a point in each of his last three games of the season.

Despite the individual accomplishments, Byram said he expected more out of himself and is looking forward to settling down in Buffalo and having a full training camp with the team ahead of the 2024-25 campaign.

Hit the ice with Bo!

“I think it was a little bit of a disappointing season for myself,” Byram said in his end-of-season media availability. “I know that I’ve got to work extremely hard this summer and come in the best shape possible and work on my game. … I’m really excited for this summer. I feel like I’ve got lots to work on, lots to improve on, and I’ll be ready to go next season.

“… I want to be part of the solution here. I want to help this team win. That’s definitely the goal moving forward.”

General manager Kevyn Adams brought Byram in at the trade deadline with the intention of bringing in another young but experienced defenseman to a group that currently includes four other defensemen under the age of 25: Dahlin, Power, Mattias Samuelsson, and Henri Jokiharju.

“The Bo Byram decision, making a big trade like that was to upgrade our team and to make our team better now and into the future, and that's what we're going to work towards in the summer,” Adams said following the trade deadline.

Head coach Lindy Ruff, who was named the new coach on April 22, expressed his excitement to work with the Sabres’ young defense corps, backstopped by goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

The Sabres allowed the fourth-fewest goals against in the NHL after Jan. 1 while the penalty kill ranked eighth in that span.

Both Cozens and Dahlin shared in their end-of-season media availabilities how Byram has used his experience to help his teammates in the locker room.

“[He’s got] some experience. He knows how to win. So, he brings a lot of good messages to guys around the room,” Dahlin said. “And he's all on board. He really wants to do something special here. … He knows what it's all about here in this locker room and he's ready for it.”

Cozens, who played minor hockey with Byram growing up before the duo went on to win gold at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, is excited to see the impact his best friend will have following a strong offseason. 

“He knows what it takes to win, so he’s been talking lots,” Cozens said. “But he’s just fit in well and he’s not even close to being the player I know he can be. He’s going to be a great defenseman in this league for a long time. I’m excited to see what he can do here a full season.”