A Closer Look at Paul Byron



It’s no secret I consider the return for Robyn Regehr underwhelming. Chris Butler and Paul Byron are players that strike me as the type of assets that are freely available at any given point in any given off-season. There was a whole collection of guys superior to Byron recently not qualified by their teams for instance.

That said, the return is what it is so we might as well take a closer look at the players coming back. First up is 22-year old Paul Byron. The smallish forward prospect was a former 6th rounder by Buffalo in 2007. He scored 21 goals and 44 points as a rookie in his draft year for the Gatinuea Olympiques of the QMJHL. He progressed rapidly during his time in junior, garnering 37 goals and 68 points in his sophomore season before topping out at 33 goals and 99 points in 2008-09.

Byron’s rookie season in the AHL was unremarkable, with the kid scoring 14 goals and 39 points in 57 games. Tyler Ennis was a rookie on the same squad that year and he managed 23 and 65 points. The promotions of Nathan Gerbe and the aforementioned Ennis last season meant a bit more opportunity for Byron and his output jumped up to 26 goals and 53 points in 67 games as a result.

His 0.79 PPG pace as a 21-year old is good but not great, and certainly does’t scream "future impact NHLer". At 21-years old, the NHL equivalency rate is about 0.47 according to Scott Reynolds. If we multiply that by Byron’s scoring pace, we get an NHLE of 0.371 or a projected 30 point season over a full 82 NHL game schedule.

Again, not great but not bad and certainly superior to what any of the Flames forward prospects managed in the AHL last season. Byron’s play earned him a cup of coffee in the bigs where he was completely sheltered (zone start rato = 63%) and he marginally kept his head above water possession wise (+3.64 corsi/60). Naturally, the sample size is too small to really take much from these numbers.

Byron is young eough that he might reasonably take another step in the AHL next season. If it’s a big step, he could become a viable NHL player. That said, he’s also a couple years away from becoming a tweener for life: almost any forward who doesn’t make the dance as a regular by the time he’s 24 in the modern NHL is probably a replacement level player at best. There are very rare exceptions (Dustin Penner), but in general anyone not skating in the big league by 23/24 years-old can probably be relegated to the "bust" section of the prospect cupboard.

Byron will make a welcome addition to the Heat, who were as punchless a team that existed in the AHL last season. I don’t expect Byron to seriously challenge for a spot on the Flames, but another step forward would go a long way to moving him to the top of the list of potential call-ups.


  • Michael

    After reading all the vitriol about the Regehr trade I think it needs to be put into perspective. So let’s imagine that Regehr hadn’t been traded, forgetting for the moment what we got in return for him. If he hadn’t been traded then we probably still have Kotalik and a second rounder, and we don’t have two young prospects who MAY have a mid-NHL level ceiling at this early stage in their careers. Let me rephrase that: you have two guys in their early 30s, one a great NHLer and one a good AHLer as well as about a 20-30% chance of landing a player who will play in the NHY a couple of years down the road, and you don’t have two guys in their 20s with something to prove and maybe the skills to do it. Oh, and one more thing, if this trade or something like it doesn’t happen you don’t have the ability to get Tanguay signed until you make some unattractive move that will surely be heavily criticized either by the fanbase, the ownership, or both. Put in this perspective, I’d have made the trade exactly 10 out of every 10 times.
    Some people don’t seem to be objecting to the fact that there was a trade, but, acknowledging that there had to be a trade, insist that there were better trades to be made. How, I would like to know, do any of you have any clue what trades were available to the team? Unless Conroy is logging on to blow off draft day steam with anonymity, or we start to hear reports from more than one other GM saying “here’s what I would’ve given,” I think we have to give Jay the benefit of the doubt that he got the best deal available.
    Arguing that Regehr should not have been traded is a Darryl argument. After all, he’s the one that gave RR a NTC. Darryl would’ve played it safe, went with the older, more experienced players under the Kotalik Rehab Project banner, and Buffalo would continue to be burdened by an excess of young prospects. I think it’s time we recognize this trade for what it is: addition by subtraction and some worthwhile addition.

  • Michael

    Cap space is great as long as you use it for a useful purpose… Feaster was serious about trading for Ryan Smyth, age 35, 40 ish points and
    a cap hit of $6.2 million?

  • Derzie

    Again, you now have to replace Regehr. With what and for how much? You free up money just to spend it on the same position and lose an asset for squat.

    Maybe the owners weren’t willing to pay for Kotalik in the minors again, but I can’t see that if Feaster really argued for it. Hagman has value to a team trying to make the cap floor.

    BTW, I don’t see why Tanguay could not have been re-signed regardless. Right now, they still have cap space, but it has to go towards replacing Regehr!

    Also, some people are assuming that every GM gave Feaster their best deal and he took the league-wide consensus best one. Phooey! Trades are like poker and Feaster got swindled. Benefit of the doubt my @$$!

  • SmellOfVictory

    How is “shut up about the Regehr trade, it’s old” raising the level of debate?

    But back to the trade, yes I do believe they got worse; they’re definitely worse for this coming season, and unless Butler/Byron surprise the crap out of me in terms of exceeding expectations, this was a trade I dislike. Certainly not the worst trade in Flames history, but it looks like a pretty bad one at the moment. Part of my irritation is due to the initial reports that the Flames were getting a 1st rounder and Luke Adam (which would’ve been a great return); this was a massive degredation from that, especially with the 2nd rounder going to Buffalo.

    • Canucks Suck

      “Shut up about the Regehr trade, it’s old”
      Buddy have you ever consider maybe Calgary and Buffalo could make future trades. You know mabye a 2 or 3 times. Back in the 80’s the Flames traded with the Blues many times. Over that time Calgary got Ramage, Walmsey, Mullen, Gilmour and yes they gave up Hull. What more do you want, if your going to win a cup.

      • SmellOfVictory

        It’s entirely possible that they’ll make more trades with Buffalo, and that this one will give some good will in Calgary’s favour. That said, I was a wee lad in the 80s, so my knowledge of trades that occurred was basically none. The era I’m familiar with is the “Darryl Sutter makes a bunch of dumb trades that end up being worse as a whole than his good ones” era, so yes I’m being judgmental right off the bat, but forgive me if I’m a little cynical about the predicted abilities of our new GM.

        • SmellOfVictory

          Little Flames Brother,
          Don’t fear change you need to embrace it. I’ve seen this team for 31 years, and I can tell you this is nothing like the eight years of hell I lived through in the late 90’s. No other GM for the last 15 years talks the talk like Feaster. I was sceptical, too. But look at it this way. Calgary was all about the defence game, which means not able to score. So Calgary decides to go the other root offence, which will mean more scoring. You were never really given that chance as a fan. Trust me its fun to watch. Have some faith in our team.

        • SmellOfVictory

          I’m like most Flames fans. I don’t like this trade but I accept it for what it is: a salary dump stemming from a situation created by the previous regime. I respect Eric Duhatschek as a hockey writer and he called the trade out for what it was (a “salary dump”).

          One thing we can’t lose sight of here is that Regehr and his agent got involved before Regehr waived his NTC to try to see if there was anything else available, presumably, in the Western Conference. It’s safe to assume that they came up with little or no interest otherwise Regehr would not have ended up waiving his NTC. If all the critics are right about Feaster’s alleged ineptitude, then surely Regehr and his agent could have scored a better return than Feaster. The fact they didn’t is telling.

          Sure, the Wild got a better return for Brent Burns but you can’t compare Robyn Regehr to a 26-year old mobile defenceman coming into his prime and who has some offensive upside.

          • Canucks Suck

            You know what they say about assume. If you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.
            You just can’t listen to Eric Duhatschek, who left the Calgary Herald for the Globe & Mail. That loser has been covering the Flames for years and is agreeably very influential. The fact is the Flames got younger and freed up money. Would you rather watch the same garbage this year as last year?

          • SmellOfVictory

            Wow, the “ass out of u and me” line! Someone ‘s been boning up on their debate skills!

            Talk about assumptions! The initial rumour (and I underline “rumour”) was that we were getting Luke Adam in return for Regehr. How do you know he was ever on the table? Are you saying that the Flames:

            1. didn’t shop Regeher around the league?
            2. opted to take Butler and Boyd over Adam and a second round draft pick?

            If YOU assume that Butler and Boyd was the first offer that Feaster got and took, then I agree would with you. That said, I’ve got this crazy feeling that you’re not right here.

            I’m reserving judgment on Feaster. I think this franchise needs an identity and direction. The previous regime always thought they were that one player away from the Cup. Tanguay in 2006, then Cammalleri, followed by Jokinen, Bouwmeester, Hagman, Stajan, Kotalik, Higgins and then Jokinen again. How did that work out?

            I don’t have a problem with some short term pain as long as there’s some promise and, eventually, results.

  • Canucks Suck

    Man reading all this I feel bad for Paul Byron, if he doesn’t make the team this year people are gonna crucify him(he probably won’t make it due to so many contracts on the team already) but if he starts the year on the minors people are gonna say he’s already a bust and it wasn’t worth it for Regehr.

    And if he doesn’t get that top 6 and starts bottom six people are gonna be all over him sayings “Oh look we traded our best guy for another bottom six grinder, D Sutter all over again”

    Guy could probably use one more season playing top 3/6 minutes in Abbotsford and furthering his already decent game and thats just fine. As well Butler is to early to call as well, he was bad, bad to start the season last season but looks like he progressed throughout the season so I’m not gonna pass judgement on him either.

    • SmellOfVictory

      You said it best Colin.
      That’s why the Flames management needs to keep Paul Byron and Chris Butler away from these right-wing yahoos. Hey they could be left, too. I know exactly what it’s like to be labelled. People will always react with their hearts and not the minds. One day these meat-heads will cheer for a winner, I just hope they’re not cheering next to me.

  • SmellOfVictory

    How do the Flames look now versu how they finsished the season? No additions but without a top shut down dman (not an opinion but one which is supported by those around the league.

    I don’t understand theidea of getting younger if it is with marginal players such as those received in the trade.

    I think Byron is very similar to what we have in the system which is smaller quick forward such as Howse, Baertchi, Howak and even Reinhart (although he has a bit more size). After drafting Baertchi and obtaining Horak I don’t undertand the need to add a similar player.

    I agree with Michael that if it was a salary dump -ok now that you’ve freed up salary what are you going to do with it. I don’t see anyone of Regehr’s calibre out there to be added.

    Giving a high 2nd rounder would have in and of itself went a long way toward having a salary floor team take a Hagman which would have left more than enough room for Tanguay.

    I can’t get my head around it either as a salary dump or a hockey trade.

    I’m willing to wait and see where all the cards fall but I see us as a weaker team than the one which finished last season. Right now I just don’t get it.

    • SmellOfVictory

      “I think Byron is very similar to what we have in the system which is smaller quick forward such as Howse, Baertchi, Howak and even Reinhart (although he has a bit more size). After drafting Baertchi and obtaining Horak I don’t undertand the need to add a similar player.”

      What Feaster is doing is trying to add skill, its a move away from guys like Chucko, Armstrong, Carepnetier and Granthem and move to team that is more skilled and faster and can actually put a guy into a top 6. Best way to do that is to acquire guys that have skill and talent, and its not a bad idea to acquire them in bunches regarless of their size.

      • Canucks Suck

        I agree Colin. I like the fact that we’re moving from the tough-guy side of Calgary’s rep to trying to become an actually skilled hockey team.

        I really don’t like the Flames trade, but at least I understand it. I would’ve loved so much to have that 16th overall pick and pick up McNeill/Grimaldi. Reality is, it didn’t happen. We got a huge salary dump at the cost of one of our top defenders, a future prospect that might not even turn out, and stupid Ales Kotalik. With this money, we resigned Tanguay and now we can get a winger on the free agent market such as Kennedy.

        The Tanguay signing I support as well. I’d rather see his term as a 2-4 year but hey at $3.4M, it’s pretty good money for a guy that just got +60 pts. I just hope Iggy and him keep up the chemistry.

  • As a purely emotional response, I didn’t like the Regehr trade and felt something better should’ve came out of it. On the flip side, change is good; Calgary can benefit from a paradigm shift because the status quo wasn’t working. Let’s see what Byron and Butler can do before the trade was deemed a failure.

  • loudogYYC

    I agree with @Colin. You can’t expect to clean up old mistakes with 1 trade. This is just step 1.

    Our highest scoring AHL player last season had 35 points (!) and wasn’t even a player with a 2 way contract that we could have called up.

    Out of everything that Feaster has done since he took over, I think the most significant move was letting Chucko, Pelech, Carpentier, Baldwin and Armstrong go. Darryl drafted all 5 of them high between ’04 and ’06. Moving these duds out of the way for smaller, faster, skilled prospects is a no-brainer.
    All we need is a few kids to pan out and the rest to remain relevant so they’re still useful down the road.

  • The conclusion of this debate could drag on until the trade deadline as the cap space will be utilized. The question will then be, was Regher worth Byron + Butler + X & or Y. I suspect it will work out just fine because if this is Feaster’s biggest moment of the offseason, then he’s really out to lunch. I don’t suspect that is the case. I also don’t suspect, Domebeers is correct thinking Murray Edwards is going cheap on this one. I’m sure they’ll still spend up to the cap. Only this time with a lot bit more offensive talent IMO.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I don’t think Domebeers meant that they aren’t going to spend to the cap. I think he meant that they aren’t going to throw $3,000,000 into the Heat for no reason, while also spending to the cap.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I think everyone gets the ‘logic’ behind the move. Doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.

    I still say that you don’t move on of your best assets for straight salary (more or less). To me, you need to get something back that is sure to play. There were/are other ways to dump salary.

    How many people would defend this if it was Iginla instead of Regehr? “Uh, fact of the matter is that we got $10.5 million in cap space.” True, but now you have to go find another 40 goal scorer who’s UFA and really doesn’t exist.

    Just like we won’t find a #3 d-man out there for $4 million who’s better than Regehr. And even if we found one considered equal, than what was the point?

    To me, the idea behind moving Regehr was to gain an asset that could contribut up front. And while I don’t think we could match the brent Burns return, I do think we could’ve brought back a single well-regarded prospect and cleared cap space other ways like moving Hagman to a team that needs to make the cap floor and burying Kotalik for all of one more season.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I completely agree with your last paragraph. Although, it isn’t my 3 million dollars being lit on fire for Kotalik. To me this is management saying clean up the contracts and cap. I feel bad for Feaster but I do think the Regehr trade made our defense far softer and we are going to have to find someone to play those tough minutes night in and night out. Bouwmeester and Gio can probably do a decent job, love Gio, but I’m not sold on them as a shut down group.