Word came down this morning that the Montreal Canadiens have claimed forward Paul Byron from waivers. The 26 year old RW/C was set to earn just $900k this season.
It’s a minor blow to the Flames depth to lose Byron. Though he’s well known for getting – and missing – break aways, Byron was the ideal bottom-six player in many ways: he could play multiple positions, he was an excellent penalty killer and he could drive possession, even bad circumstances.
Byron was probably never going to be a big scorer in the league (though I suspect his SH% is going to rebound at some point), but he was a handy swiss army knife type player to have in the arsenal. It’s especially relevant to the Flames because Byron was perhaps the only above average possession guy in the bottom-6 last year aside from Matt Stajan.
My guess is if Byron was 6′ tall, he’d wouldn’t be considered quite so expendable. Unfortunately for small players, not being able to score at an above average rate usually relegates you to the bottom end of the rotation, no matter how effective you might be otherwise.
That said, Byron isn’t a cornerstone player either and the team has a lot of depth bubbling from underneath. His loss won’t be insurmountable for the club, but I will personally miss his blend of speed and tenacity – even if he could never bury those break-aways.
Good luck in Montreal Paul.