Is it panic time for Colorado Avalanche General Manager Greg Sherman, or is he just concerned that his four rookie defenseman are not up to the task? Regardless of reason, Sherman acquired defenseman Ryan O’Byrne from the Montreal Canadiens this morning. In exchange for O’Byrne, the Canadiens received unsigned forward prospect Michael Bournival.
“It’s pretty sudden, but at the same time it’s an opportunity I’m looking forward to,” stated O’Byrne. “Your heart is kind of pumping a little still and obviously I haven’t been traded since my second year in junior, so it’s a different feeling. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for me to play. Obviously, we are pretty deep defensively here in Montreal and I haven’t played much and I’m a young defenseman and you got to play, that’s the bottom line.”
Although O’Byrne has only played in 128 NHL regular season games, he will fit well into the Avs organization as young well-rounded player. O’Byrne dressed for the Canadiens in all of his NHL games played, but was going back and forth between AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs and the Canadiens.
With all the injuries to the Avs defensemen this season, it isn’t a surprise that Sherman has traded for a player with a little bit more experience. In the Avs games against the Calgary Flames this past Tuesday, the Avs dressed four rookie defensemen that had a total of 17 combined games played in the NHL.
Even though rookies Jonas Holos, David Liffiton, Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk played very well in the loss against the Flames, there is still something that these young players cannot provide: size.
O’Byrne is 6-foot-5, 234-pounds, compared to Jonas Holos, who is 5-foot-11, 196-pounds and Kevin Shattenkirk at 5-foot-11, 193-pounds. Respectively, David Liffiton is 6-foot-2, 210-pounds and Colby Cohen is 6-foot-2, 200-pounds, however, all four don’t have the size presence that O’Byrne is going to bring to the table.
With the addition of O’Byrne on defense, Avs blue-liners should be able to play a more physical style, something that defenseman Ryan Wilson is known to play with. The physical play will be able to translate well in front of goalies Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj.
Also, O’Byrne will be a welcome addition to a struggling penalty-kill that has issues keeping players away from the front of the net. O’Byrne will be able to be a big body that can move opposing players, as well as play physically powerful behind the net.
“I was waiting for that chance to get back in and there weren’t any opportunities and guys were playing really well in front of me and a good veteran defense here, too, and you just sit and wait and be patient and the way it works, I ended up getting traded,” said O’Byrne.
With O’Byrne now in the lineup and Adam Foote coming with the Avs on their two-game road trip, Coach Joe Sacco is able breathe a little sigh of relief. However, there is still a question mark as to when Foote will return to the lineup.
Still, one thing is for certain, O’Byrne will be in uniform tomorrow night, as the Columbus Blue Jackets will host the Avs in the second of four meetings between the two teams.