Former first-overall pick paces Tier II in the Top 24 and under Sabres of 2024

One player dramatically disappointed a contingent of Sabres fans in 2023-24, but they nonetheless achieved and deserved a top-five ranking.
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7: Bowen Byram, D/Avalanche/Sabres

The only real downside with Bowen Byram is that the Sabres had to give up Casey Mittelstadt to get him. But if Kevyn Adams wasn’t 100 percent sold on Mittelstadt sticking around perhaps long-term, making the trade meant the Blue and Gold could get something of worth for the 25-year-old. 

Although Byram played in just 18 games for the Sabres, his three goals and nine points, plus his physical style and penchant for taking away pucks, made the trade worth it in the short run. But we also must remember Byram is injury-prone. And in the previous article, that injury proneness caused Mattias Samuelsson to freefall from what would have been a top-tier ranking. 

If Byram avoids injuries in ways Samuelsson hasn’t, there is a good chance he could be an upgrade over the former second-round pick. But if Samuelsson returns healthy and if Byram ends up struggling with injuries, these rankings will fluctuate over the next 365-plus days. 

An ideal scenario would entail Byram playing sound hockey and staying healthy next season while Samuelsson returns at 100 percent. If that happens, it will be exciting to see just how dangerous the Sabres defensive rotation will get.