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Winnipeg Columnist: Byfuglien’s gotta go

Apr 27, 2013, 4:48 PM EDT

Dustin Byfuglien Getty

Since being traded by the Chicago Blackhawks and transitioning back to the blueline, Dustin Byfuglien has emerged as one of the league’s most productive defenseman from an offensive perspective.

But is that enough to warrant his $5,200,000 cap hit and leading role on the Winnipeg Jets? Winnipeg Free Press writer Gary Lawless doesn’t seem to think so. He argued that Byfuglien has become a roadblock for the team.

Here’s his case against Byfuglien:

There are all sorts of issues that add up to this result but Byfuglien is a major part of the formula that hasn’t produced.

The 28-year-old Minnesota native played in 43 games this season, scoring eight goals and 20 assists. Solid offensive numbers, but too often the production came at a cost. The Jets were among the worst defensive teams in the league, ranked 25th with 141 goals against.

Byfuglien, as one of the blue-line leaders in ice time and opportunity, wears much of that responsibility. He can take one’s breath away with a rush up ice but he can also produce great angst with his lack of defensive awareness.

Keeping him in such a key position no longer makes sense. It isn’t working.

There’s been talk about Byfuglien changing his game to be more balanced and less of a risk. It hasn’t materialized into a consistent reality.

His fitness issue was supposed to be addressed and resolved. Hasn’t happened. It may have gotten worse.

Lawless argued that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should trade Byfuglien, unless Cheveldayoff believes that the blueliner is on the brink of a breakthrough.

There’s bound to be a market for Byfuglien if Winnipeg does decide to shop him. Plenty of teams need a minutes-eating blueliner that can play a key role with the man advantage.

Of course, with that in mind, the Jets might keep Byfuglien off the market this summer.

  1. ravenscaps48 - Apr 27, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    I don’t know about that.

  2. pitpenguinsrulez - Apr 27, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    Great now watch all of the Flyer fans say “Oh look big buff is available” “Great lets go sign him” “Oh wait we don’t have the cap space”

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Apr 27, 2013 at 10:55 PM

      Or the Hens will pick him up to be Little Miss Cindy’s bodyguard.

  3. philly4lyfe - Apr 27, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    I can’t spreak for all flyer fans, but I don’t want him. he would hinder more than help the issues we have in our zone. but if they decided they did want him, I’m pretty sure we’d have the space for him after bryz and brierre are amnestied and prongers contract goes back on LTIR.

  4. trick9 - Apr 27, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    I would love to have him with the Capitals but i don’t really like him as a defender and can’t see why they are playing him there. He would be much better as a winger parking around the net.

    Not to mention that he can still play on the point in the PP, as that’s where he is most dangerous with his shot.

    • mthor24 - Apr 27, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      Jets played him at wing for a couple of games and he was non-existent. Asking him to be a top line winger is a lot different than asking him to be a 3rd line winger on a Stanley Cup team.

      • dadawg77 - Apr 28, 2013 at 11:14 AM

        In 2010 Buff’s main job was top line winger on a Stanley Cup winning team. Then again he was there to crash the net with Toews and Kane.

  5. uscthom78 - Apr 27, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    He can be that big body in the front of the net to shield the goalie and tip in goals ala holmstrom….actually he has success playing that way…..if u use him that way he will be productive for your team…..

  6. bballnut50 - Apr 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    needs to come back home and his rightful place in the State of Hockey!! Go Wild!!!

  7. valoisvipers - Apr 28, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    The reporter is spot on about Big Buff being a liability.

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