Twenty-two year old defenseman Tyler Myers is waiting to enter his fourth NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres. Prior to starting his professional career with the Sabres, however, the Texas native who largely grew up in Calgary made a name for himself with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.
Kelowna drafted Myers with the team’s first round selection in the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft, 19th overall. At the time, he played for the Hounds of Athol Murray College of Notre Dame (Saskatchewan) and joined the Rockets for nine games after being drafted that season.
Myers made his debut with Kelowna on February 26, 2006 in a 4-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Among his teammates: Alexander Edler, former Buffalo Sabres prospect Mike Card, Luke Schenn and Tyler Spurgeon.
He’d go on to make his home debut in Kelowna two days later, in a 4-3 win over Prince George where Myers earned his first WHL penalty and ended the game a plus-1. He notched his first Western Hockey League point on March 10 – an assist on a goal by Troy Bodie at 1:47 of the first period in a 3-2 victory over Seattle.
In nine regular season games, Myers had one assist and a plus-3 before joining the Rockets for eight playoff games. He scored his first WHL goal in the playoffs, against Kootenay Ice goaltender Taylor Dakers on March 29, 2006 as Kelowna defeated the Ice by a score of 5-4.
The 2006-07 season would be considered Myers’ rookie season in the league. In 59 games, he scored twice and added 13 assists and 78 penalty minutes. He also ended the season with a minus-21.
The next season would be somewhat better for the young defenseman, as he scored 19 points (6-13) and 97 penalty minutes in 65 regular season games before joining the Rockets in the postseason. There, he added a goal and two assists in seven games before being drafted by the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres with the 12th overall selection.
His third full season in the WHL – which was his last in the league, it turned out – would be his best yet. Myers scored nine goals and 33 assists in 58 games; he also had 105 penalty minutes and an impressive plus-31 rating. Kelowna went on to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup, and Myers was named playoff MVP for his 20-point performance. (He scored five goals and 15 assists in 22 games.)
Thanks in part to his strong performance in the 2008-09 season and playoffs, Myers made his NHL debut with the Sabres the next season. His first professional game saw him suit up on October 3, 2009 against the Montreal Canadiens.
The very next game, Myers scored his first NHL point: an assist on a goal by Buffalo forward Clarke MacArthur at 4:14 of the third period en route to a 2-1 Sabres win. Myers was awarded third star honors that night.
Five days later, he’d add another assist – as well as a plus-3 performance – in a game against the Detroit Red Wings before scoring his first NHL goal on October 16, 2009. The goal came 2:27 into the game against former Sabres goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Myers also added an assist on a goal by Jason Pominville for the first multi-point performance of his NHL career. Once again, he earned third star honors.
He went on to score the game-winning goal in a shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning several days later, and after playing nine games in the league, the Sabres elected to keep him on the team’s roster rather than allow him to return to Kelowna.
Myers led the team in average ice time that season, adding 11 goals and 37 assists in 82 games. He also scored once in a six-game playoff run that postseason before winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie, beating out Matt Duchene and Jimmy Howard.
The sophomore slump affected Myers only slightly, as he rallied back to round up 10 goals and 27 assists in 80 games. He also added a goal and five assists in seven games in the playoffs.
Finally, Myers played 55 games last season with the Sabres, missing time due to wrist and foot injuries. He scored eight goals and 15 assists and was plus-5 in the first year of his seven-year, $38.5 million contract with the Sabres.
He’s established himself as one of the top defensemen on the blueline for Buffalo, and at just 22 years old, he’s got a long and bright future ahead of him.