Report: Pens draftee Byron expected to test free agency

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Yesterday, Pittsburgh landed a prized collegiate prospect in Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese, the NCAA’s leading scorer this season.

Today, it might’ve lost one.

Per Sportnet, University of Maine senior Blaine Byron — Pittsburgh’s sixth-round pick in ’13 — is expected to pass on signing with the club and will instead test free agency this summer.

It’s a similar move to what former Harvard star Jimmy Vesey did (and, before him, Boston College standout Kevin Hayes). Both balked on signing with the teams that drafted them, played through their senior years in college and were eventually able to sign with teams of their choosing.

Ironically enough, both ended up inking with the Rangers.

Byron, 22, is coming off a great year. He racked up 18 goals and 41 points in 36 games, finishing tied for 18th in the country in scoring. It’s unclear where he would’ve fit in the Pittsburgh organization, though, and one has to think the Aston-Reese signing might’ve played a factor.

In a recent Tribune-Review piece, Byron did make a list of the club’s top-20 prospects, coming in at No. 17.