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Should the Jets cut bait on Byfuglien?

Aug 22, 2013, 11:43 PM EDT

buffygetty Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets boast some polarizing players such as Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec, but none of them are quite like Dustin Byfuglien.

Really, the NHL has seen few – if any – specimens who resemble Big Buff. The Jets franchise’s recent track record of moves suggests that they’re happy to watch their core grow, yet some might wonder if the team would be wise to part ways with their hybrid defenseman-forward.

Let’s break down the factors at hand.

Breaking down

Breakdown is actually a useful phrase because some might worry that Byfuglien’s greatest asset – his mammoth size – might also be his greatest curse.

There’s no doubt that people wonder about his weight; in fact, his condition will almost certainly be a story – good or bad – once Jets training camp rolls around.

More seriously, he’s had some knee problems and other concerns, which is troubling since he’s already 28. While there are examples of players aging like wine, many only get worse with time (especially those with questionable fitness regimens).

Unique weapon

Word snobs fuss about the over-use of the word unique, but it might be appropriate when it comes to Byfuglien.

With the possible exception of Brent Burns, not many players can switch from forward to defense (or vice versa) and make an All-Star team that following season.

Some wonder if Byfuglien’s defensive play is lacking, yet others find that he’s been passable (if not good) in that regard.

And, really, Byfuglien’s offensive value as a rover likely makes up the difference. While his booming shot is a few miles per hour short of Zdeno Chara‘s slapper, Byfuglien is often more daring when it comes to attacking the net and freelancing around the offensive zone.

It’s one thing to know when and where a scary shot is coming from, but what happens when that threat is more improvisational?

A tough call

In the grand scheme of things, it might come down to context.

The Jets could very well decide that he’s valuable, but the team might benefit more from a package that includes prospects and picks. At $5.2 million per season, he’s likely being paid properly, yet that might be just costly enough to prompt management to move on.

What do you think, though? Should the Jets stick with their big, unusual asset or sell him off to the highest bidder?

More Jets day at PHT

Is time for Trouba, Scheifele to step up?

Winnipeg pays big to maintain core

Pavelec has a lot to prove

  1. ron05342 - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:20 AM

    I don’t see where the content of the story merits the word “polarizing.”

    One usually associates that word with a player that makes trouble in the room. So naturally, never having heard of this guy causing such trouble, I was interested in reading the content.

    Which, apparently, is pure bullshít.

    I really think you guys need to be honest in your reporting…nothing in your story even remotely resembles anything “polarizing.”

    • hockey412 - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:54 AM

      I’ve taken issues with some articles in the past (normally when an article is written to drum up comments at a players expense (ahem…Crosby….) but I think James is ok here.

      It’s true that normally we use that term as it relates to personality issues but that’s really not the literal definition:

      “to divide into sharply opposing factions or groups: The controversy has polarized voters.”

      Looking at the voting…it looks like he’s pretty polarizing in that sense. I don’t think they meant any disrespect to Buff.

  2. vanindeed - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:24 AM

    I’d take Byfuglien on my team tomorrow. It’s not a tough call, he can flat out play.

    • missthemexpos - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:13 AM

      Proper coaching, so that one of the Jet forwards know to drop back a little more than usual in the offensive zone when Buff starts free wheeling as I fully agree with vanindeed that Byfuglien can flat out play.

    • alexbaymac - Aug 23, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Keyword: ‘Can’

      He definitely CAN play…but will he, on any given night?
      I’ve said it since he left Chicago, no one seems to be able to motivate Buff other than Buff. At least Seguin has his mom.
      When he wants to score, he scores. Big.
      When he wants to win, the team does very well.
      When he wants 27 Chimmichangas….Taco Bell does very well.

      It never seemed like a coach could find the buttons to push (anyone else picture the PopinFresh commercial here?); motivation always had to come from inside Buff. Good thing theres lots of room in there for it!

  3. cerealrapist - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    Are we gonna have useless articles analyzing the pros and cons of all the other players in the league too?

    What should the Devils do with the polarizing Andy Greene?

    Terrible article.

    • kaptaanamerica - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Isn’t it jets day or some such today…

  4. hockeyflow33 - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    It would depend on who you were getting back in a trade.

    Why would you get rid of an affordable asset for nothing?

  5. thailer35 - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:02 AM

    Seriously, even if he does have a weak off season regimen, he’s got so much natural talent he is clearly a top 2 on almost any team. Ridiculous article overblowing a couple of pictures from previous offseasons.

  6. billyhauntswizards - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    Trading Byfuglien would be a good idea for the Jets in my opinion. They’ve got Jake Trouba who’s very close (if not there) to being NHL ready, and he will be FAR superior to Buff. And Zach Bogosian clearly isn’t going anywhere, and that $5.5 million dollar hit is pretty ugly. I would trade him, but I very much understand why they wouldn’t.

  7. lostpuppysyndrome - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    A lot of Jets fans have been grumbling for the past couple years about the guy’s apparent laziness, from skating to passing to his weight, and some folks (including myself) called for him to be traded. However, considering what’s been passed around this offseason regarding his commitment, he could be an intriguing player this year. He’s shed A LOT of weight, and Wheeler made the comment that we should be expecting an improved Buff this season. Maybe he’s taken the criticism to heart or maybe it’s because of the Olympic camp invite, but in any case I’m looking forward to seeing this “new” Big Buff.

  8. pfpmb - Aug 23, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    His passing isn’t an issue. He’s got the best hands and vision on the squad. The main issues with Big Buff is his commitment to conditioning, injury woes and his disregard to his defensive responsibilities. It also seems like he lacked focus in an ADD kind of way. Hopefully for the Jets, he comes to camp fit and focused.

  9. lidstrom5 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    29 other teams probably would not Question him

  10. hosewater2 - Aug 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Same discussion happened with Chara during his Ottawa days, not about injuries and physical fitness, but rather his ability as a hockey player. I’d stick with Buff.

  11. earpaniac - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    IMO, I think it’s coaching. He was fine in CHI. His salary might be high, but I think that’s because they were expecting a natural upward progression from what he was with the Hawks.

    • scrouch - Aug 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      In Chi he played forward, not defence. People aren’t worried about his ability to cause trouble in the offensive zone, it’s making poor decisions on the defensive side and getting stuck in the other team’s end then not being able to recover defensively that’s a problem. That and often not covering guys well in front of his own net. All not issues if you’re playing wing.

  12. govtminion - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Not sure about ‘cut bait’, but he seems like one of those players who makes a good team great, but doesn’t help a lesser team become good. Does that make sense? A great supporting part, basically.

    So… it depends on where the Jets feel like they’re at. If they think this year is playoff time, sure, he’d be a great asset. And if not, then perhaps it’s worth seeing what other teams will offer to get him instead. Biff is a good player, but draft picks would probably help the Jets build themselves into a better team overall- and of course, there’s no shortage of playoff teams who would love to bring in a tough power forward/defenseman for a playoff run. Boston comes to mind, for example, and Biff seems like just the kind of player Torts would love in Vancouver.

  13. caliscooter - Aug 23, 2013 at 2:33 PM

    With all his flaws, I loved Big Buff in Chicago, and would love to see him wreaking havoc in front of opposing goalies with a Blackhawk sweater on him again.

    • larry1957 - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      I would hope the hawks would get Buff back too. With Coach Q running his butt up one side of the rink, working out, eating right. Come back to chic town Buddy!

  14. stinkpretty1 - Aug 23, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Wasnt there an article about him in June about Big buff being 308lbs at that time.

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