Byron Returns

Byron_Returns

When the deadline to tender qualifying offers to RFA’s passed last week, many of us were disappointed that Paul Byron was not among those given offers by the Flames.  That mistake has been rectified.

Paul Byron was drafted 179th overall in 2007 by the Sabres, put up respectable numbers in the AHL, and played his first 8 NHL games with the Sabres, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.  The Flames acquired him from Buffalo as a small piece of the much-maligned Robyn Regehr trade.  In the remainder of the 2010/2011 season, Byron played 22 games for the Flames, got 5 points, and, despite being sheltered, was hammered badly in terms of possession.  During the following (lock-out shortened) season, the Flames called Byron up from Abby for a measly 4 games and threw him to the wolves.  He played shockingly tough minutes for a rookie and was correspondingly destroyed in Corsi, although he did manage a lone assist.  To make matters worse, Byron’s AHL production dropped to just 0.39 ppg that season, which was the lowest pace in his pro career so far.  With just one year left on his contract, things looked grim for Byron.

His professional career teetering on the precipice, Byron started the 2013/2014 season off right.  He scored 18 points in 25 games, which was his best AHL pace since leaving the Portland Pirates.  When the Flames’ injuries piled up in November Burke finally gave Byron the call. It might have been desperation or maybe Burke just wanted to see what Byron could do in the NHL before his contract was up.  The rest is now well known to Flames fans.

Byron was again thrown to the wolves and found himself facing similar competition to Backlund and Cammalleri.  This time, however, Byron proved equal to the task.  He netted 21 points in 47 games (0.45 ppg) and was one of the Flames best possession forwards. Fans were soon affectionately referring to him as “Mighty Mouse”, not only because he’s tiny, but also because of his uncanny ability to zoom up and down the ice at astonishing speeds just in time to save the day. 

Although it is unclear why Byron was not tendered a qualifying offer while he was still an RFA, he has finally been signed to a contract by the Flames.  While his salary is not, at the time of writing, known, we do know is that it’s one-way and one year.  This is, unmistakably, a “prove thyself worthy” bridge contract.  With the additions to left wing made this summer, it’s not entirely clear where Byron will fit into the lineup.  However, it’s heartening to see the Flames retain a player with clear potential rather than allowing him to be snapped up on the UFA market just because he doesn’t quite measure up to the current ideal. 

Welcome back Paul Byron!

  • McRib

    The Scrimmage is being streamed live at flames.nhl.com. The third period is just starting the stream was not working due to technical difficulties, so hopefully the stream is archived on flames.nhl.com for future viewings. Bennett with the first goal, Tim Harrison with the second, both assisted by Gaudreau.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      At the scrimmage this morning and my overall thoughts below, based on 1 check/good play, 1 minus for bad:

      7+ GAUDREAU clearly the best player on the ice. Speed, quickness, excellent hockey IQ, possession and puck handling, and picking up loose pucks off the face-off. Dangerous almost every time he touched the puck. Stayed out of corner scrums, waiting for outlet passes or the puck popping loose. Walked right by Carroll once, and stopped cold by Kanzig and stripped of the puck, the only time. He ended up with 2 assists.

      4+ WOLF clearly the best “tough guy”, hitting everything in sight, stripping guys of the puck, hustling, strong in the corners and also with some moves. Scored a shootout goal with a nice move and shot top shelf.
      4+ KANZIG seemed like a strong defender and defensive QB, skating the puck up and making good up-ice passes. Strong in his own end and corners, and only one to stop Gaudreau 1 on 1. Missed on a penalty shot but scored in the Shootout.
      4+ MCDONALD made several excellent stops and handled the puck well behind the net. Looked strong with good positional play. Best of the 4 goalies, but I thought Corbin Boes made a couple great stops too.
      4+ AGOSTINO very fast, good at both ends and willing to mix it up. Had some good chances but also good on the forecheck.

      3+ BENNETT seemed to play a very strong all-around game without being outstanding in any one aspect. Excellent hockey IQ, shot and nose for the net. Worked with on a line with Johnny Hockey, scored a goal and in a great move in the shootout. Very good on face-offs. Doesn’t look big against the guys out there but not afraid to go into the corners either. Reminds me a bit of Monahan i.e. being at the right place at the right time and being strong around the net.
      3+ KULAK Strong defensive play plus moving the puck and participating in the offensive zone. Looked like a pretty good snapshot from the point as well.

      2+ KLIMCHUK, HARRISON, HICKEY, CARROLL all made several good plays and stood out amongst the forwards. Also noticed ZEDJL and CHAPIE amongst the tryouts.

      1+ ARNOLD, VAN BRABANT, SMITH and ROY, along with tryouts BAILEY, VALCOURT, and LEEDAHL.

      Only guys I noted negatives were CARROLL, CULKIN, GILMOUR, and VUIC, either getting beat badly or giving the puck away with bad passes.

      Hopefully FN will get a write-up plus other views. In the post-game skating drills the fastest were ARNOLD, VAN BRABANT, GAUDREAU, HICKEY and VALCOURT. The quickest were CARROLL, ALLEN, and GAUDREAU.

      Looking forward to the net scrimmage on Wednesday.

      PS: Very limited parking what with all the kids camps going on. Got there at 9:30 and nothing around the arenas…

  • McRib

    FYI the score, to the surprise of no one, is 2-0 Group B. Bennett and Harrison (!) with the goals (both assisted by Gaudreau).

    Doug Carr started for team B, McDonald (I think) for group A. Carr relieved by Boes, McDonald by someone (maybe?)

    All I know is gleaned from the Flames’ twitter.

  • piscera.infada

    Early impressions: Kulak, Gaudreau, and Agostino look quite good. I’ve noticed Austin Carroll a few times as well.

    Klimchuk has made a few things happen.

    • piscera.infada

      I’ll second that. For me, the most impressive player outside of Gaudreau was Agostino. Hickey’s skating is as advertised, also seems to be very patient with the puck.

      Outside of Flames drafted players, I really noticed Grayson Downing. Anyone know anything about him? I know it’s just development camp, but he looked pretty good for an undrafted player.

      • seve927

        Kulak has been outstanding to me. He was one of my favourite prospects since he was drafted. Then I thought at camp last year he looked kind of lost. Today he looks more like I remembered.

        I love the way he moves the puck. He seems to know what’s going on around him without seeing it. Very much like TJ. He doesn’t skate like him, but he looks so confident with the puck. Looking for big things for him in Adirondack this year!

        The good: obvious ones (Gaudreau, Bennett), Roy, Kanzig, Fram ran a pretty nice power play.

        The bad: Smith.

        • seve927

          I remember one play (basically the only play I saw him on) where Smith tried to hit Kanzig.

          He bounced off.

          I thought Culkin actually looked pretty good on that powerplay too. Until it ended and he and Kanzig got hemmed in by Agostino for a good 30 seconds.

          • supra steve

            So what I’m reading is that both our second round picks were duds.

            How did our third round picks do?

            Did Bollig look a little long in the tooth? Let’s wait 3 or 4 years before we judge him too?

            BB BT are destroying this team……sad but it’s true.

            WW

          • playastation

            huh? What are you reading?

            Why is there no dev camp posts? It’s been going on all weekend. And we’re writing about it in a post about resigning byron.

            Or… does anyone here actually WATCH the flames?

          • playastation

            WRONG, McDonald was clearly the best goalie, making several excellent stops, and Smith did OK, making a couple nice plays.

            Hickey some good plays and very fast…

          • RedMan

            Well, Kanzig is 6’7″ and 245 pounds. I’m pretty sure Smith isn’t anywhere near that heavy.

            I think the only guy who could make Kanzig budge from a hit would be Arnold (well, Wolf probably too). He’s not big but he’s built like a truck and he’s always been tremendously strong.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Walter, this is practically the definition of small sample size, impatience, and a few other things we don’t need to go into.

      We aren’t going to know if our pick in the second round, i.e., the 34 slot, will be a real asset for 3 or 4 years and we won’t know if we “should” have picked someone else for a while yet either.

      I didn’t want a goaltender there either but let’s just leave the kid alone for a few years.

        • McRib

          I don’t think anyone saw Mason McDonald play as he was on for the first half of the scrimmage, which was not streaming due to technical difficulties….

          As I have said before Mason McDonald had a 1.94 GAA in the U18s for Canada, whereas someone like Thatcher Demko had a 2.24 GAA for a stronger USA team last year. If Mason McDonald played on even a remotely capable team this year his numbers would have been much much better, he was outstanding in the Top Prospects game when I saw him.

          It’s not hard to tell who has watched McDonald play live and who hasn’t… Because everyone who has loves his game and anyone who goes off useless stats clearly has not. Red Line Report, Craig Button and hockeprospects.com had McDonald as the top goaltender in the draft, every other scouting service had him as a Top. 55 prospect and as the second best goalie in the class.

          As for Hunter Smith who you said should have been a 5th rounder…. You realize he was ranked 39th by ISS, 24th by Sportsnet, 39th by Central Scouting, 49th by THN, etc. I guess it’s easy to hate the Flames picks when you are in denial and think that consensus second rounder’s are supposed to go in the fifth round?!?!

          • Parallex

            “As I have said before Mason McDonald had a 1.94 GAA in the U18s for Canada, whereas someone like Thatcher Demko had a 2.24 GAA for a stronger USA team last year”

            To which I’d say…

            A: GAA is not a good stat,

            B: It’s a tiny sample size,

            C: It wasn’t the same tournament,

            D: You’re comparing the performance of someone in their draft year to someone else in their draft -1 year.

            Someone else could just point to his (McDonald)playoffs stats of a 6.58GAA and a .860sv% and say he should have gone undrafted… they’d be as equally wrong as pointing to a short U18 tournament but they could do it.

          • supra steve

            None of this matters, at this point. The Flames selected their goaltender with their early 2nd rounder, check back in about 5-6 years to see if they are happy to have made the pick or if they have regrets.

          • McRib

            I guess I just disagree with eight U18 games (2 exhibition) being a “tiny” sample size. Considering Mason McDonald only played in (parts of) 29 games in the QMJHL this season, so the 8 games he played at the U18s is a sample size of 27.5% of his regular season workload. Anything over 25% is really a decent sample size for me at least.

            If we were to compare SV% at the U18s Mason McDonald comes out looking even better with a 0.930 over Thatcher Demko’s 0.899. Like I said the USA Team usually dominates the spring U18s as they play together all season long. Interestingly Thatcher Demko’s year is the only spring U18s the Americans have not won since 2009 (six seasons).

            I lived in Halifax for the last four years going to school and must say, you really don’t understand how bad the worst QMJHL Teams are…. Because the QMJHL stacks the top teams so heavily the basement dwellers end up being absolute whipping boys. Honestly the bottom 5-6 QMJHL teams would not beat BCHL/AJHL teams. I understand U18 performance isn’t everything, but it’s the only way to compare two goalies, one of which played on the most staked NCAA team and the other played on two of the bottom five CHL teams (yes the worst five teams in the CHL are all easily in the QMJHL).

          • RedMan

            there is definitely reasons that they took him, and we all surely agree that they did their homework on all these guys, and that many strong hockey people made the decision together, so it is safe to assume they had more to consider then just his two counting stats from the crapper team he was on. I have no issues with picking this goalie over the other… I don’t even really feel bad that they took him when they did.

            I actually like the way things are shaping up, and I am not yet ready to panic.

            We have a very exciting group of prospects – maybe not all blue chippers, but plenty to be excited about even without factoring how bad things have been (prospect wise) over the recent years.

            You only live once, might as well enjoy the ride.

          • Parallex

            Why do you keep bringing up Demko’s .899? He did that if a different year, different tournament, and most importantly he did it a year before McDonald. He was younger then McDonald. That’s an important detail that you completely ignore, that it was Demko’s draft minus 1 year.

            and it is a small sample size just because McDonald didn’t play a ton else where doesn’t make it meaningful. In the sample that had the greatest size (his CHL regular season) he had a .900sv%. That’s not very impressive.

          • EugeneV

            “just because McDonald didn’t play a ton else where doesn’t make it meaningful. In the sample that had the greatest size (his CHL regular season) he had a .900sv%. That’s not very impressive”

            Hey bud, how about a little context?

            90% is VERY impressive if most of the shots you face are from the hash marks in vs most of your shots coming from “outside”

            I’ll say it again. “Goalies from bad QMJHL teams who face a million shots have a history of success in the NHL”

          • EugeneV

            I think it is a conclusion which can be drawn with common sense, as I’m sure a team which should likely have won the Frozen Four gave up less quality scoring chances than McDonald’s dumpster fire of a QMJHL team did.

          • Parallex

            Even if that’s true it still indicates that McDonald wasn’t particularily good at stopping them.

            Let’s also not forget that Demko was performing against NCAA competition… a higher level of opposition (filled almost exclusively with players older and more experienced then him) and excelled while McDonald put up pedestrian numbers (at best) in a environment better described as a youth league.

          • EugeneV

            Athletic. That is what I took away from watching him on youtube.

            Looks like he’s not a flopper.
            Stays square to the puck, doesn’t drop down to B/Fly too soon.

            I like the pick.

            Goalies from bad QMJHL teams who face a million shots have a history of success in the NHL.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Wow. slick move by Gaudreau in the shootout (although he didn’t score). Apparently Bennett’s shootout score was sick (video didn’t show it, but Patty was reeling)

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    The lack of coverage on the development camp is not cool. The only job FlamesNation has is to cover the Flames. We’re still reading development camp comments on Byron’s resigning thead.

  • Parallex

    I was at the game this am. I too miss the interview and coverage that we saw here lat year. Oh well… I guess the boys need a break too.

    My quick observations: Johnny G.- Wow! The guy just makes things happen.

    Sam B.- As advertised a gritty skill game. Good hands showed some creativity. Almost scored on a wrap around. I wouldn’t describe him as a pure skill guy but a guy that makes smart plays with the puck and has hands to finish. The comparison to Dougie G. seem like good ones. My own opinion is that he needs to go back to junior this year. Look for him to be impressive down the line and I think he will show well in preseason.

    Kenny A.- Makes smart plays. Strong on the puck. Seems to be a right place right time kind of player.

    Arnold- He made some great passes that could have led to goals. He isn’t the biggest guy but he carries the puck well and gets it out of the corners.

    Wolf- The guy is a beast. Big strong. Okay Skater. This guy looked like a man amongst kids out there. Just strong. I bet we’ll see him get a callup at some point. Not saying he’s much but I bet we see him.

    Kanzig- I guess I am rooting for this guy to beat the odds because of all of the abuse he took on here last year. Honestly I think he looks pretty good. Skating has improved. PAsses the puck well. Big and tough in the corners. I can’t believe that he didn’t get more points last year…

    Culkin- Looked confident with the puck. Strong on his feet. Makes smart plays.

    Unsigned Guys

    Adam Chapie- I thought he was one of the best skaters on the ice.

    Dawson Leedahl- Not sure who this guy is but I noticed him. He seemed to be all around the puck. Finished some hits.

    Zejdl- Another guy who made me look down at the roster to see who he was. Strong skater. Good size. Smooth with the puck.

    Overall the game was pretty sloppy. A highlight was Johnny G making his linemates shine and Bennett with an unreal shootout goal. I expect that Wednesday might be a bit crisper of a game. the forced powerplay time was fun to watch. If you’re going Wednesday get there early as seating is limited.

  • loudogYYC

    I only had a few observations because the only period I caught was the last one.

    Gaudreau: He is honestly amazing. He is still very small, but not exactly puny anymore. Great skater, even better hands. A+

    Bennett: Seemed to be in the right place at the right time and had a great shoot out goal as well. Could probably put on some weight as he looked just a little undersized, but he is one of the youngest kids there by far. A year back in the juniors will be perfect for him. A-

    Kanzig- He stands out because he’s gigantic. He made a couple great plays, but also panicked a couple times and made a few dumb passes. Everyone speaks of how he stopped Gaudreau on that one play, but in reality Gaydreau more or less fumbled the puck and ran into Kanzig. Nonetheless, Kanzig wasn’t terrible. C

    Austin Carroll- He stood out to me because he played pretty physically and had decent speed. Also, I like it whenever a 7th round pick does something that catches my eye. B-

    Fram- He looked pretty good with the power play , made smart passes, and I think he was the best out of the invitees. B

    David Wolf: Very physical. He definitely looked too old to be in this development camp, but I’m glad he stood out at least. B

    Smith: I was dissappointed. He didn’t really show anything at all. D

    A couple players I wasn’t able to identify, but I really liked how #62 played, who is he?

    Also I didn’t notice Klimchuk doing anything spectacular. Did anybody see him doing anything in the first two periods?

    Looking forward to the next scrimmage to watch some more Johnny Hockey Magic

  • everton fc

    I watched a “tilt” between the “towering” Hunter Smith and Nick Ritchie this morning off Youtube. Ritchie was all over him, and it looked like Smith started it. Something to consider, if Burke signed him for this type of thing.

    I think Carroll will surprise people. He’s quick. We shall see.

    How did Eric Roy look? Someone gave him a +1. I think he’s a sleeper.

    Could David Wolf make the opening day roster? Does he have a chance??