You see, the trick for Byron scoring on breakaways is: remove all other players and put him in the best Flames sweater ever created. There. Simple.
With Winnik and Tlusty both dealt this afternoon, the trades are starting to come fast and furious as the trade deadline approaches and I thought we should spend some time talking about another one of the Flames expiring deals, Paul Byron.
I have made it exceptionally clear in previous posts here that I am one of Paul Byron’s biggest fans so I will abandon all pretense of objectivity today. However, I am very curious to hear what everyone else’s opinions of ol’mighty mouse are. That’s why today we are discussing what to do with Paul Byron, a restricted free agent this summer after making 600K this season. Let’s get into it after the jump
Paul Byron’s struggles to score on breakaways have become a punchline this season for many Flames fans and for good reason. He’s currently batting something like .079 on breakaways in his career and has had many opportunities to score at key moments but has failed.
However, Byron has shown himself to be a very useful player for the Flames this season and throughout his brief stint as a regular NHLer. Using the most basic of possession evaluations, when you take a look at Byron’s WOWY’s, you can see that the vast majority of his teammates CF% improves when playing with Byron (take a look at Colborne’s numbers without him…yikes).
Byron’s greatest weapon is his skating, a facet of the game that, to my mind, the Flames have made the most drastic improvement in during the post-Iginla era. Byron’s speed makes him valuable for creating controlled zone entries and for generally being a pain in the ass to the opposition on the PK (he has played 55:28 on the PK this season, second only to Bouma).
The real question is, what to do with him and does he fit in the long term plans for the Flames. The Flames chose not to qualify him last summer and instead settled on a one year deal. I think it’s safe to say that the Flames organization is at least ambivalent in terms of his long term future, despite the fact that Bob Hartley seems to trust Byron, playing him in diverse situations, often including in overtime.
However, outside of Curtis Glencross, the Flames are bereft of expiring deals that could net them either futures or perhaps a depth defender. The question becomes, what is Byron worth and is he worth holding on to if the price is too low?
As of this afternoon, the trade market for depth forwards seems to be heating up with Winnik heading to the Pens for a 2016 second and a 2015 fourth round pick. Jiri Tlusty was also moved for a 2016 third and 2015 sixth (gosh, that’s cheap). It’s hard to say what this means for Byron, whom you would think would fetch less than Tlusty.
Complicating matters is the fact that Byron is currently on injured reserve with a “whole body” injury and very few details about how long-term it will be. It seems as though it isn’t very serious but the Flames did make those callups recently so who knows? For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume he’s healthy and able to be dealt, should the Flames do it?
Personally, I think the Flames are way better off hanging on to Byron rather than letting him go for mid round prospects (before you point this out, yes I know the Flames have struck gold with fourth rounders lately but the vast majority of mid-rounders never pan out). Byron’s contribution at an NHL level are valuable and he could be a part of, what Kent characterized when describing Lee Stempniak (I think) in an article many moons ago, the connective tissue of the team. I like Byron and think he should be given a new contract.
But who cares what I think! I turn things over to you, what would you do with Paul Byron?