It’s usually quite hard for a player to grow out of the shadow of a guy they were traded for or replaced. When Theoren Fleury was shipped out in 1999, Robyn Regehr quickly became known as the major player the club acquired. Then he made himself known as a very good, very tough hockey player. Playing the majority of an NHL season after breaking both of your legs in the summer will do that for your reputation.
Paul Byron is one of two Flames with the tough job of replacing Regehr. In many ways, Byron’s everything that Regehr was not: small, fast and a forward. Heck, he played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. And as Regehr’s first year with the Flames organization had one major set-back followed by a season of consistency, Byron sort of went the opposite way.
Peaks And Valleys
The former Sabre yo-yoed up and down between Calgary and Abbotsford for the entire season. He was recalled three separate times during the year and was alternately very good and very average, depending on the circumstances.
Byron had five points in 22 games with Calgary and 21 points in 39 games with Abbotsford. His pro-rated NHLE is in the vicinity of between 13 and 18 points for a full season. He was very good in spurts, particularly during his first recall stint when he played with Roman Horak and Lee Stempniak on a good third line that made a lot of trouble for the opposition. However, throughout the season, Byron was the most shielded player on the team, based on corsi quality of competition numbers and zone start figures.
He was also the streakiest player on the club.
- Abbotsford: 9 games, 3 goals, 1 assist, minus-1 (Oct. 7 – Nov. 5)
- CALGARY: 6 games, 2 goals, 0 assists, plus-4 (Nov. 10 – Nov. 25)
- Abbotsford: 9 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, minus-1 (Nov. 27 – Dec. 18)
- CALGARY: 12 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-2 (Dec. 19 – Jan. 20)
- Abbotsford: 8 games, 0 goals, 4 assists, minus-4 (Jan. 21 – Feb. 11)
- CALGARY: 4 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, plus-1 (Feb. 12 – Feb. 23)
- Abbotsford: 13 games, 3 goals, 7 assists, plus-6 (Feb. 24 – end of regular season)
- Abbotsford: 8 games, 4 goals, 3 assists, plus-1 (playoffs)
If you’re wondering why Byron kept getting recalled considering his lackluster offensive numbers in Abbotsford, it’s likely because he’s young, he has NHL experience and he had already been up early in the season and wouldn’t have to adjust to the NHL. At least, that’s my theory.
As you can see, Byron was perfectly fine in two of his recalls and largely invisible in his second, longest, recall. I’m not sure what to make of this. He was very good in the AHL in spurts, particularly near the end of the season when he seemed to get settled into a nice groove.
Byron has been qualified by the Flames, so he’s most likely returning to the organization. His qualifying offer was worth just over $600,000 at the NHL level and it sounds like a acceptable value for Byron. I’m unsure as to if Byron has more than third/fourth line upside at this point, but if he can adjust to the speed and physicality of the bigs, Byron may be able to put up better offensive totals than he has.
For now, based on how shielded he was by the Flames (and the fact he didn’t consistently excel in those circumstances), he’s got some work to do.