Injuries to the blueline this season opened the door of opportunity for almost every defenseman in the system signed to an NHL contract by the Blue Jackets. Gavin Bayreuther took full advantage, skating in 51 games for the Blue Jackets despite entering the season as the team’s 8th defenseman.
By the time we’ve all recovered from this season and have moved on to the future, Gavin Bayreuther may best be remembered by Blue Jacket fans for being the guy taken by the Seattle Kraken at the expansion draft. The Kraken knowingly wasted the pick, leaving Bayreuther unsigned and allowing him to become a free agent … where he promptly signed back with the Jackets.
Signed to a league-minimum NHL salary of $750k for two seasons, Bayreuther has appeared in 94 games over the last two seasons since re-signing with the Blue Jackets. In that time, he’s accumulated 2 goals and 20 assists for 22 points – including a career-high 14 points this season – while adding depth in a Swiss Army knife sort of role for the Jackets.
He’s bounced between the NHL and AHL without complaint, appearing in 9 games with the Cleveland Monsters and collecting 7 assists over that same time span. Originally signed by the Dallas Stars in 2017, Bayreuther came from the NCAA ranks where he played four seasons with St Lawrence University.
Bayreuther took the long road to professional hockey, and is honestly a traditional “4A” player – too good for the AHL, and not quite good enough for the NHL. He doesn’t have any standout traits that make you turn your head, but he’s a willing combatant who plays in whatever situation is thrown at him and does the best he can.
There are some serious head-scratching moments when you watch him play, such as the video above. But in the end, he’s a guy that seems well-liked by his teammates and coaches, who has taken an undesirable role to try and carve out a niche for himself. Much respect to him, and honestly, he’s done a pretty good job giving this team a nightly body on the back end.
Final season stats: 51 games played, 2 goals, 12 assists, 14 points, 23 PIMS, -18, 61 shots on goal. Overall grade: C
I can’t complain, really. Bayreuther looked like a player who was playing bigger minutes than he should, but he gave a strong effort for this team in a lot of instances where they didn’t need it. While he’s likely going to be allowed to walk as a free agent this summer, we should appreciate having a guy who just goes about his business and does the best he can for this team.