Growing up in Cranbrook, Bowen Byram never imagined being picked fourth overall in the National Hockey Draft, but on June 21 in Vancouver, the Colorado Avalanche called his name.
“I definitely don’t think if you would have asked me however many years ago, I would have thought I’d be in the position that I am, but I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today, and I know there is a lot of work ahead if I want to play in the NHL,” said Byram.
When he got up on stage he said he felt a lot of relief to be able to put on that blue and burgundy sweater.
“It was pretty crazy. I still don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet,” he said. “A lot of relief maybe, and a lot of happiness for sure.”
Byram was ranked second among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, so he had an idea that he was going to be drafted early on.
“I was pretty excited, obviously I figured I was going to get picked fairly soon. It was pretty cool, I had a good feeling about Colorado, and they got up there and called my name. It was all kind of a blur after that,” he said.
The Vancouver Giants defenceman was lucky enough to have friends and family come to the draft and show their support.
“I had a lot of friends and family there so it was cool to share the experience with them,” he said. “The draft, being in Vancouver definitely was nice. I play here obviously, so it worked out well that way.”
Having grown up in Cranbrook, Byram said going fourth overall was special to him because of the support he has received.
“I’ve had a tremendous amount of support from my family members, to my friends, to the community in Cranbrook itself. I’m very grateful to be from where I am and I love the City of Cranbrook. I’m sure I’ll be living there for years to come,” he said.
Byram finished the 2018/19 regular season with 26 goals and 45 assists for 71 points. On Jan. 12 against the Kamloops Blazers, he collected five points in one game, which was a single-game record for the Giants’ franchise. He continued that success into the WHL playoffs where he led all skaters with 26 points.
Having just returned from the Avalanche development camp, Byram said it was a fun opportunity to be part of.
“It was good to meet lots of the staff throughout the organization, and other prospects … it was a lot of fun and did some fun activities, obviously skate and workout while we were there. It was good to get an overview of how things get run down there,” he explained.
While being drafted in the first round of the NHL draft is an exciting time, Byram is now switching gears on trying to crack the Avalanche line-up out of camp.
“It’s definitely a cool feat, but now I’m focused on training, getting better and hopefully playing in the NHL this year,” he said.
The focus in the offseason for Byram will be to get bigger and stronger while working on his on-ice skills.
“It’s a big summer for me for sure, obviously going into my first year eligible to play in the league. I just have to keep working hard throughout the summer and hope for the best,” he said. “I’m confident if I work my hardest and go in there an have a good camp that I can stick, so that’s where my mind is at.”