Aside from defenseman Will Butcher, the Buffalo Sabres will be having a conversation with center Blaine Byron as well. Byron became a free agent yesterday as well after not signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted him 179th overall in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
The forward scored 41 points as a senior for the University of Maine this last season. He consistently led or was near the top of the scoring charts for the Black Bears in his four years there, finishing up with 108 points in 141 games, mostly against better competition in the Hockey East where Maine were frequently outmatched.
Lead suitors for NCAA Maine's Blaine Byron are New Jersey, Ottawa, Buffalo and Vegas. Talented center was originally a Penguins pick— Ryan Kennedy (@THNRyanKennedy) August 16, 2017
It’s interesting that the Sabres find themselves contending against the New Jersey Devils and the Vegas Golden Knights again, with both teams in the chase for Butcher as well.
From Hockey’s Future -
Byron is a playmaking forward with a high hockey IQ. He is very good at creating offensive both off the rush and down low and has excellent vision and anticipation, which allow him to create space. Aside from adding strength and size, Byron needs to develop more of a shooter mentality, if only to cause opposing defensemen to back off a little. He also needs to simplify his game and learn when to chip in the puck and when to carry it.
While the Penguins are loaded at center at the senior team, the talent is sparse at the position in the minors for the franchise. Pittsburgh added Zach Aston-Reese this spring, so it is puzzling that Byron has decided to move on.
Ottawa Senators are also named as a possible destination, and that could make sense for the 22-year-old who is a native of Manotick, an Ottawa suburb. Byron played midget hockey in Ottawa and was even selected by the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL draft but chose to go to Maine.