NHL Prospect Notebook: Byram returns to the ice, another Kyrou impressing

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram pursues the puck during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Denver. (AP)

Looking ahead to the OHL outdoor game, a CHL goalie giving back, and Bowen Byram taking positive steps in his recovery.

Here’s an update on all things NHL prospects and more:

Mantha Mania

An update to a story written earlier, Elizabeth Mantha will make her QMJHL officiating debut Feb. 26th in a game featuring the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in Blainville-Boisbriand to take on the Armada. Mantha is the younger sister of Washington Capitals forward Anthony. Mantha has recently returned from officiating in the Beijing Winter Olympic games.

Chilling in Hamilton

if you haven’t heard, the Hamilton Bulldogs and Oshawa Generals will play the Outdoor Showcase as part of the Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic featuring the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The game scheduled for Monday, March 14th, is the fourth outdoor game in OHL history.  The Bulldogs are ranked fifth in the CHL’s top ten, while the Gennies sit third in the OHL’s East division, well back of Hamilton


Each and every year we hear a number of stories about sons of former NHL players who are up for the draft.  Another popular connection is the sibling scene.  One sibling making noise in OHL circles is Christian Kyrou of the Erie Otters.  Kyrou is the younger brother of St. Louis Blues All-star Jordan.  A defenceman for Erie, Kyrou has 8 goals for 21 points in the 17 games Erie has played since the calendar flipped to 2022.

It’s Never Too Leighton 

On Tuesday, Windsor Spitfires GM Billy Bowler announced the hiring of former Spit Michael Leighton, as the team’s new goaltending coach. Leighton played for four different NHL teams over parts of ten seasons. Leighton will have a chance to work with the talented duo of Xavier Medina and Mathias Onuska who sit 11th in the OHL with a 3.65 GAA. Leighton was selected 195th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1999 NHL draft.  Leighton was playing in the AHL as recently as the 2018-19 season.

Cougar Keeper

Speaking of goalies, had a great chat with Prince George Cougars netminder Tyler Brennan Tuesday night as part of the Difference Makers campaign in conjunction with Hockey Gives Blood.

Brennan is the top-rated North American goalie according to NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings released in January.  

Life Savers

Quick shoutout to OJHL trainers Jen Vaicunas (Aurora Tigers) and Lindsey O’Neil (Collingwood Blues) along with former NHL’er and Tigers Head Coach Greg Johnston who helped save a life during a family day game in Collingwood Monday.  The trio attended to a fan who was having a heart attack in the stands.  As someone who spent a long-time as an assistant Equipment manager, I have a great appreciation for what people behind the scenes do on a daily.  

Back Draft

Keep an eye on 2003 born Max Pellerin, captain of the Victoriaville Tigres.  The 6’ 180 lb right shot centre has 18 goals and 40 points through 35 games played.  In two shortened seasons previously, Pellerin had just 7 goals and 19 points over 82 games with Victoriaville.

Bo Back

Great to see Colorado’s Bowen Byram has returned to the ice.  The Avs defenceman was seen back on the ice in Colorado Tuesday.  Byram has been out since January 11th as a result of multiple brain injuries.   At that point, he decided to return home to Cranbrook, B.C. to take some time away from the game.  There is no timetable for his return, and there shouldn’t be with such serious injury concerns.  Through 18 NHL games, Byram has 11 points.  He was Colorado’s 1st pick, 4th overall in the 2019 NHL draft. 

Captain Mac

Tyler McGregor was named captain for Canada’s Paralympic Hockey team.  It’s McGregor’s third Paralympic games.  James Dunn, Tyrone Henry and Liam Hickey were named alternates.  Canada begins play March 5 in Beijing against the U.S.  

Thoughts with Rodion

Lastly, very best of luck to Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov.  I’ve never met the young man, but studied him frequently over his draft year.  The Maple Leafs used the 15th overall pick in the 2020 draft to take the talented winger.  While tending to another injury in January, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour.  If you don’t know his story, please see Elliotte Friedman’s fine work here.

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