2014-15 By The Numbers: #32 Paul Byron

Paul Byron made the big jump last season, going from being a pretty good but not quite NHL-caliber forward to being an everyday player. His speed and hockey sense made him a valuable commodity on the team – a player that Bob Hartley could slot in basically anywhere and with any linemates and get value out of him.

He continued this strong play in 2014-15, but he just couldn’t bury a break-away chance.

You could tell the Flames really missed Byron during the playoffs. He’s fast and small, but plays physical and is a strong back-checker. And for the second straight season, when he was healthy, he was one of the Flames’ most consistent players.

Behold, Paul Byron’s WOWY. He’s pretty good.

Player Together Apart Diff.
Wideman 47.6% 42.0% +5.6%
Russell 47.3% 42.2% +5.1%
Brodie 47.6% 44.9% +2.7%
Giordano 48.9% 48.2% +0.7%
Engelland 41.6% 40.3% +1.3%
Glencross 51.6% 44.9% +6.7%
Granlund 44.0% 40.2% +3.8%
Monahan 50.5% 45.1% +5.4%
Stajan 46.7% 44.2% +2.5%
Diaz 44.0% 47.1% -3.1%
Colborne 48.1% 41.7% +6.4%

So, the only person who’s worse-off with him is Raphael Diaz. Everybody else is either a little bit better or a fair bit better. And that includes the possession killers of the defensive pairing of Wideman and Russell – their numbers are bumped up more than 5 per cent with Paul Byron merely on the ice. Deryk Engelland, who is objectively bad at possession hockey? He’s better! I’m willing to shrug and say Raphael Diaz is an aberration.

And when you bear in mind that Paul Byron was playing hurt for a big, big chunk of the season, his numbers are pretty impressive, despite his inconsistency. Here’s a rolling five-game Corsi chart.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 12.42.23 PM

Byron also slid down the line-up card during the season – partially because he was banged-up, and partially because the team saw guys like Top Six Forward Lance Bouma, Josh Jooris and others deserve to play more. So Paul Byron got dropped to the third and fourth line, despite playing well, because the team needed to give time to other guys. His deployment was relatively middle of the road, and changed a lot throughout the season.

Byron’s a pending restricted free agent and I believe he has arbitration rights. If he re-signs, he’ll be pretty inexpensive. He historically hasn’t scored a ton, but he’s good away from the puck and he creates chances. If the Flames pair Byron with a finisher, he could be very valuable. However, given his age, I’m not fully sure he gets a long-term deal, because the Flames have kids coming up that they probably want to see in the NHL (and Byron would require waivers to get bumped down to the farm.)

But hey, if Paul Byron ends us being the Flames 13th or 14th forward next season, it means that a couple kids are playing really, really well. Or that he’s hurt again.

2014-15 BY THE NUMBERS

#1 Jonas Hiller #19 David Jones
#3 David Schlemko #21 Mason Raymond
#4 Kris Russell #23 Sean Monahan
#5 Mark Giordano #24 Jiri Hudler
#6 Dennis Wideman #25 Brandon Bollig
#7 T.J. Brodie #29 Deryk Engelland
#8 Joe Colborne #31 Karri Ramo
#11 Mikael Backlund #32 Paul Byron
#13 Johnny Gaudreau #33 Raphael Diaz
#15 Ladislav Smid #60 Markus Granlund
#17 Lance Bouma #79 Micheal Ferland
#18 Matt Stajan #86 Josh Jooris
Everybody Else
  • SmellOfVictory

    I hope Flames management sees the value in Byron. I’m sure they could get him on a deal between 1-1.5 mil AAV and I’d love to see him on a 3ish year deal.

  • OKG

    Love Paulie Byron. He’s a joy to watch coming through the red line. Really was snake-bitten all season, he showed better hands in 2013-14 than he did this year.

  • Lordmork

    IMO, Byron is the kind of useful support player that NHL teams sometimes neglect. Just because he doesn’t score lots doesn’t mean he’s not a useful player. Byron being re-signed seems like a key test for Flames management, especially given the low cost of retaining him.

  • Curtis

    I feel like Byron is underrated and I’m afraid our management will let him walk due to all the players we have. I’m a big fan of the player and I hope our management doesn’t look at his size as a problem, because he plays like it isn’t.

  • Greg

    Byron is worth the price of admission just to see all the ways he can find to not score on a breakaway! I don’t think anything else this season gave me more laughs.

    Those possession numbers are incredible, he’s better than I even thought. That’s said, there’s too many forwards on this roster and someone is going to get squeezed out – I fear it’ll be him due to “can only have so many small guys and Hudler and gaudreau is the limit” thinking.

    If it goes that way, I hope we at least trade his rights for something and not just lose him for nothing, cause he’s worth more than that.

  • piscera.infada

    I’ll play a bit of devil’s advocate here,but first let me say I like Byron, and I’d certainly re-sign him. That said, is there a spot for him? I assume Bennett’s a flame next year, ditto Ferland. You bring back Backlund and Bouma. Jooris continues to play as a Flame. Where does Byron really “fit”?

    Sure, “trade Colborne”, and I tend to agree with that (although I have a hard time seeing the Flames doing it).

    Also, do we want to see Poirier, Granlind, Arnold, Klimchuk (?) get a chance to stick with the big team?

    I get it, Byron is a great bottom-six possession driver. This team needs more of those, not less, but I just don’t know where you squeeze him in.

    • OKG

      Byron fits in everywhere. Whether it’s LW on the Monny/Hudler line if Johnny’s not playing well (it happened this year), on the PK (it happened this year), the 6th man in with an empty net (it happened this year), RW on the shut-down line if Jones/Colborne aren’t playing well(Glencross-Monahan-Byron was our shutdown line in November and was VERY effective, i don’t see why Bouma-Backlund-Byron can’t be that), on the bottom line as the pure energy guy (and really, why are Bollig/Raymond still on this team? they’re the guys that don’t fit!).

      As for those other guys, there will be injuries next year. It’s up to those guys to come and take a spot during those injuries.

      Ask yourself this: which Flames this season were never close to being healthy scratched?

      Giordano
      Brodie
      Monahan
      Hudler
      Russell
      Byron
      Backlund
      Bouma
      Colborne

      That’s pretty much it. Stajan, Wideman, Jones, Jooris, Granlund, Ferland, Shore, even Gaudreau all got the “treatment” from Hartley. Byron never got it.

      • piscera.infada

        Don’t disagree, just trying to look at the macro.

        I also agree with Bollig, but he’s here. Not much we can do about it. I’m willing to give Raymond another season. That move was widely viewed as smart before the season started, and I do think he has something to offer–he’ll need to if the Flames want to trade him.

  • TheoForever

    There is no space on the team for Byron long term, like it or not. He is very likeable but Flames want to be bigger.
    Given the choice Flames management will pick Colborne over Byron every time, can’t teach size.

    That’s why we have Bollig who Flames will pick over Byron too. We should ask Chicago to trade their 3rd rounder for Bollig, ohh, I’m sorry they would laugh us out the door.

  • piscera.infada

    Having heard Brian Burke on the Fan960 yesterday he definitely reconfirmed the Flames need and plans to get bigger and heavier. As much as everyone loves Byron, his speed, his puck possession skills, his heart etc…he is simply not a goal scorer and is small….bye bye and best of luck….

  • RKD

    Yup, i would keep Bryon over Raymond. Paul’s shown a much higher compete level than Raymond. He’s a threat while killing penalties and it is only a matter of time before he converts on one of his zillion breakaways.

  • Burnward

    If you put him in for Backlund, I wonder how severe the drop off would be…with the thought of moving Backs for that young D. Maybe say, an Alzner type.

    Ferland-Byron-Bouma would be fun.

  • He is the perfect 4th liner. Can kill penalties and push the puck the right way. He is a pain in the ass to play against. AND HE’LL BE CHEAP!

    You need these kinds of players on the 4th line (that can go to the 3rd or even 2nd in a pinch) that are cheap so you can fill the rest of the skill roster and be able to pay. Stajan on the fourth line is great and all but 3.2m for that is not a prudent spend.

    Sign him. Even if you have some younger guys take over his spot eventually, you can move him if and when that happens.

    I don’t think it will happen though.

  • All this love for Byron, I recall two years ago almost everyone wanted the little guy gone and we had been hood winked in the RR trade. I was one of the few at the time who said give the kid a chance and now I find myself at a cross roads with him. For all the good things he does and people have all outlined them here versus his shortcoming again discussed plus all the prospects pushing at the door this makes the decision difficult. Sign him for 2 years low salary plenty of bonuses and give the kids a little more time to develop and if an offer comes in for him at the deadline you move him.

  • TheRealPoc

    It’s fantastic that we’re going to end up with multiple top sixers who play 200 foot games (Monahan, Gaudreau, Bennett, etc.), but I still think the philosophical approach to their deployment should be focused around giving them as much high ground as possible – not because they can’t handle the heavies, but rather because scoring is now at a premium in this league, and you need to leverage your best scoring talent in your most probable scoring situations (O-zone starts, matchup game, PP, 4v4, etc). Unless I’m mistaken, the only way to do that consistently & effectively is by allocating the tougher minutes elsewhere.

    In that respect, cheap, play-driving quality in your bottom six becomes even more paramount. This is a couple articles in a row now where I’m piggybacking on Beloch’s assessment, but he’s bang on again: simply put, Byron just moves the play north, perhaps better than anyone else on this roster. Yeah, it’d be great if he could finish a little more consistently, but the mere fact that you have a 4th liner who generates so many scoring chances for should be the real focus here. If a few more go in, great…but it’s pretty tough to get scored against when you’re the one generating all the breakaways, and that’s really all you’re looking for out of your low cap hit guys – keep your head above water, don’t be a liability, let the big boys do their thing. Byron is a strong facilitator of this approach.

    When you look at our young group of bottom sixers moving forward, it’s a really exciting collection of guys who can all legitimately play. There is no reason why it’s unreasonable to think a group moving forward that consists of Backlund, Ferland, Bouma, Byron and Jooris shouldn’t be able to get the better of their bottom six counterparts from the opposition on any given night. On top of that, with guys like Klimchuk & Arnold in the pipeline, that trend of legit bottom sixers should continue. It’s exciting to think that in the very, very near future, this roster will ice 18 competent skaters night after night. It’s happening.

    Cliffs: resign Byron, let him tear up tough assignments and the PK, “beef” be damned.

  • TheRealPoc

    Doubt he sticks around, with Ferland, Jooris, Bennett, Granlund, Shore all needing ice time and Poirier also on the verge of cracking the roster there isn’t much room for Byron, whether right or wrong…and Burke basically confirmed the other day they need to beef up and it’s a priority…Byron by default appears to be a casualty of the numbers game