Paul Byron is many things.
He’s a winger for the Calgary Flames, who is presently injured. While we haven’t been given specific timelines for his return, he’s expected to be returning to full practice in the near future and – knock on wood – he’ll potentially return to the Flames line-up before the end of the season.
Byron’s got a lot of positive attributes. While he’s not big, he plays bigger than he is, often throwing body checks. Heck, he took out a Sedin in last season’s finale – thankfully the opponent was fine afterwards, but the fact that 5’7″ Paul Byron is that physically engaged is damned impressive.
And Byron’s quietly emerged as one of Calgary’s best possession players.
Here’s a table for your consideration; listed in order of most even-strength time with Byron to the least, with a minimum of 100 minutes played together.
As you can see, everybody is better with Paul Byron, with the exception of Raphael Diaz.
If it was just one or two guys, or guys that played in specific situations, you could argue that some of this is noise in the numbers. But 11 of the 12 guys that Paul Byron played with regularly move the puck up the ice more often when he’s with them.
Is it any wonder that the Flames’ possession numbers have continued to stagnate without Byron and Mark Giordano? Giordano’s an easy explanation, as he’s excellent and the proverbial straw that stirs the drink for the Calgary Flames.
But don’t discount the impact that the potential return of Paul Byron could bring to the table. Byron’s speedy, he’s physical and outside of his horrendous results in breakaway situations, he’s very good at creating scoring chances for himself and his teammates.
If only he had hands around the net…