Get Well Soon, Paul Byron

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.

Player CF%
With
Byron
CF%
Without
Byron
Difference
Russell 47.0% 41.2% +5.8%
Wideman 46.9% 41.4% +5.5%
Brodie 48.7% 46.3% +2.4%
Giordano 49.4% 48.2% +1.2%
Engelland 42.4% 40.3% +2.1%
Glencross 52.1% 44.1% +8.0%
Monahan 50.7% 44.2% +6.5%
Granlund 42.7% 40.3% +2.4%
Stajan 46.9% 44.9% +2.0%
Colborne 47.6% 40.9% +6.7%
Diaz 42.5% 46.2% -3.7%
Smid 43.7% 41.3% +2.4%

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…

  • Flamesfever

    Miss that guy, lil mightmouse, hes brings alot of speed and energy to the team, even though he aint good at breakaways he still generates alot, hope hes back soon, i havent heard one update about him since his injury.

    • jdthor

      It would be nice to see him pot the odd break away goal but just the fact that he has so many is a huge positive. Not many other players on the team will ever have issues with scoring on break aways cause they rarely get them.

  • Colin.S

    Interesting, that Glencross-Monahan-Byron line was very strong early in the season before Hartley broke it up with the return of David Jones and Joe Colborne and we went on an 8 game losing streak.

  • beloch

    Byron just breaks the game open with his speed. There’s his obvious penchant for streaking up the wing and taking a long pass, but he also wins short foot races to loose pucks. As much as has been said about needing big, beefy players in today’s NHL, I think the case can be made that every line should have a speed demon to facilitate break-outs and hoover up loose pucks. The Flames should sign Byron to an extension for sure. Here’s hoping he’s healthy again soon!

      • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

        Speed for the sake of speed is also a waste of a roster spot then.

        Byron is a one dimensional “corsi” player. You talk about needing to be multi-skilled, or it’s a waste of a roster spot. Surely we need players who do more than just out shoot their opponents?
        I am pretty sure that the team that scores the most goals is awarded the win at the end of the game.

  • RedMan

    Byron plays an exceptional game all around except for around the net – can’t seem to finish. That doesn’t matter as he has skills that make him and his linemates successful including speed to burn and a surprisingly physical style of play. He wins battle on the boards, first to pucks, excellent PK, and his speed backs guys up. give him linemates who can finish, maybe Porier and colborne… for an excellent 3rd line

    • beloch

      Byron’s sh% is actually above NHL average this season even though it’s below his career average so far. It just seems like he has no finish because of all the spectacular breakaway chances he’s failed to score on.

      Even if he had no finishing ability, there’s something to be said for fourth line players who can drive possession even if they can’t score. Such players can give your scoring players a break without giving up goals.