Dustin Byfuglien - Overrated? Or Underrated?

CHICAGO - MAY 31: Chris Pronger #20 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Chicago Blackhawks battle for the position as the stick of Byfuglien breaks in the first period of Game Two of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on May 31, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

If there's one thing you have to do in a capped league, it's trade your overvalued entry-level contracts as soon as they come to RFA status.  And after Chicago's Stanley Cup run, nobody could be more overvalued than Dustin Byfuglien.  Buf's contributions at even-strength have been very middling the last two seasons, as he faced mediocre competition alongside average linemates and got a reasonable distribution of zone starts:

 

Year Season Buf's O-Zone Start% Team O-Zone Start% Buf's Rank on Team Corsi Rank
2009-10 Playoffs 78.0 54.6 1 1
2009-10 Regular Season 54.4 55.0 10 15
2008-09 Regular Season 57.7 55.6 8 12

 

But in the playoffs, Joel Quenneville used Byfuglien in a very specific offensive role, and all of a sudden he became an offensive superstar.  Don't get me wrong - this was good coaching - but Buf is nowhere near as good a his numbers suggest.  Chicago was wise to dump an expiring contract, and the haul - a #24 pick and a prospect - reflects a league-wide understanding that Buf is just not as good as he appeared to be over the last two months.

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