Garret the Armchair GM - Winnipeg Jets 2012-13 Lineup Predictions: Defense

In my third FanPost for AIH, I have decided to continue my previous armchair General Manager and coach work, this time with the Winnipeg Jets defensive corps. Of course, we all know this is kind of silly, since things may change throughout the year, what with chemistry, dry spells, injuries and so forth; but it's fun. Below are my thoughts, player reviews and my reasoning of who slates in to Winnipeg's top 8.

Also, after each of my individual player reviews, I have provided a link to Ben’s statistical approach on the same topic. I highly recommend you read all of the saber metrics, including the comments section within, as it will give you a deeper understanding of the thought processes that I used to frame my choices and predictions.

This time will be a little bit different than the last, since I can't come to a consensus. I have three different possible lineup situations. Check it out after the jump.

Option 1: Last Season's System





Callups: Meech , Redmond

Option 2: Babysitting Postma System





Callups: Meech , Redmond

Option 3: Garret's Dream System (see below)




Stuart, Clitsome

Callups: Meech , Redmond

Option one, in my mind, is the most likely one followed for next year since it follows the system which Claude Noel's deployed last year. The first pairing will cover most of the tough offensive zone starts; the second pairing will handle most of the tough defensive zone starts; the third pairing recieves most of the sheltered minutes.

First Pairing

Tobias Enstrom: This guy can't seem to get a break. Some people say he's too small to survive a playoff round -- though he has yet to play a series to prove this ideology -- but every Stanley Cup finalist in the last 5 years has had an "undersized" defenseman in their arsenal, save for Vancouver (although Enstrom is a bit smaller than a Lidstrom or Letang, undersized is still undersized). Others say he's too weak defensively without so much as reviewing his shot differentials. I will just say that it is stupid to think not being physical equates poor defensive play. And plenty of pundits say that because 2011-12 was an off year for him, he is regressing. Those detractors should note that Enstrom was tied for 19th in PTS/GM in the entire NHL last season in defensemen who played atleast half a season. He is a player who continulally pushes the play forward and is an integral piece to the Winnipeg's transition game. Not to mention, he is a solid counterpart to the shooting galery that is Dustin Byfuglien. Please TNSE, sign this guy for a reasonable extension; let's avoid any Suter/Parise situations. Without major injuries, look for Enstrom to post similar production to his 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons.

Tobias Enstrom Saber Metrics

Dustin Byfuglien: While Enstrom was 19th for PTS/GM, Byfuglien finshed ranked 3rd in the leauge, while labouring through an injury the entire second half of the season. At times, he can get caught over pinching, take overly long shifts, and have dificulty transitioning back into the defensive zone, but many have noted that these defensive gaffs decreased throughout the season and that -- if used effectively -- his offensive upside can outweigh his occasional defensive liabilities. Byfuglien and Enstrom are exactly what any team would want in a first pairing, although their one weakness is their inability to dominate on the penalty kill. Without injuries, look for a year of improvement both defensively and offensively from Big Buff (if you can believe it).

Dustin Byfuglien Saber Metrics

Second Pairing

Ron Hainsey: Hainsey is yet another player who receives a negative feedback from the uneducated Jets fan. For the most part, the complaints against Hainsey are similar to those of Nik Antropov in which fans tether his value to his salary. ( I wonder if Onrej Pavelec will escape the tsunami heading his way next year ). As previously noted by Ben, Hainsey would probably do better on a team where he isn't playing third offensive fiddle, though he may be usurped by the addition of Paul Postma this year. I have trouble deciding whether he'd better suit the second pairing under the same system as last year, or on the third pairing babysitting Postma (the difference between option one and two above). For next season, his production is really relative to whether he retains second PP unit time or if it's instead granted to Postma.

Ron Hainsey Saber Metrics

Zach Bogosian: Bogosian is one of the few defensemen who doesn't receive a lot of guff from the fans; which is ironic because he received a lot in his final year with the Atlanta Thrashers. Under the guidence of Charlie Huddy, Bogosian has taken a huge step forward to developping into an every-minute defenseman. He has played well in a shutdown role while still being able to produce, ranking 30th league-wide in PTS/GM compared to Enstrom's 10th and Byfuglien's 3rd. At such a young age, it is tough not to get really excited about this guy. Look for another step forward from Bogosian in all areas this year.

Zach Bogosian Saber Metrics

Third Pairing

Mark Stuart: Stuart can best be described as the GST line, only on defence. He regularly hits opponents with anger, fights with a vendetta, and blocks shots without any care to his personal well-being. He has a lot of heart, to be sure. Unfortunately, Stuart cannot match the skill set of all previously named defensemen. Combined with being the oldest on the defensive corps and the large defensive depth the Jets have, it isn't difficult to forsee him not being extended past the 2013-2014 season (sorry Derek... and sorry everyone else for the double negative). In fact, I have a feeling his contract was the largest reason Aruts Kulda wasn't given a one-way contract similar to Postma's, since Kulda could of been that second pairing lefty PK specialist we are looking for. I think he may improve over last year without GST pulling him down and probably a better forward tandem for the penalty kill... but the question remains by how much.

Mark Stuart Saber Metrics

Paul Postma: I only got to observe Postma in 2 of his 3 Jets games and most of the St. John's IceCaps post-season. So, I requested for some input from two IceCaps season ticket holders and just summarized it: Paul Postma is wonderful offensively on the power play as well as 5v5 situations and probably more so than a lot of NHL defenseman. He skates well for his height although this is relative to AHL players and not NHL players. His defensive abilities -- long thought to be his largest weakness -- have improved and although they are no longer his largest weakness, have still be an issue(hopefully Huddy will be able to fix this). His largest weakness now seems to be his consistency and mental game; apparently, if he falls out of the zone he has difficulty getting out of his rut until the next period, or sometimes the next game. Don't know what to look for in Postma other than some power play points. I think we will find him to be an upgrade on Jones and Flood though if sheltered appropriately.

7th Defenseman

Grant Clitsome: Great last name. The sample size I saw was smaller than that of even Postma. I can see him trading off with Postma and Stuart for third pairing minutes as Noel finds which ones fit best with his system and usage. Again, I'm not sure what to look for in Clitsome either, but again I think he and Postma will be an upgrade to Randy Jones and Mark Flood.

Grant Clitsome Saber Metrics

Bonus: Third Option

What I would ideally like to see is for the Jets to make another free agent signing or a trade for a left handed, legitimate second pairing skilled, penalty kill and shutdown specilist defenseman (or a left handed Bogosian would be good too!). I think said player would compliment Enstrom, Byfuglien and Bogosian in the Jets' top 4 much better than Hainsey does. This addition would most likely bring in many of the factors that cause fans to appreciate Stuart, but with more effectiveness. He would push Hainsey down to the third pairing, allowing him to help develop Postma and cover for him. With any of the scenarios above, Noel would be able to competently roll multiple units, the same way he plans to roll his top nine forwards. This acquisition also protects the Jets should they lose both Enstrom and Hainsey to free agency this year, and would further promote the option of trading Hainsey at the deadline for draft picks. My suggested route would be to trade a combination of pick(s) and/or prospect(s), which could be regenerated if Hainsey is traded


Unlike our forwards, we have only improved in top end talent from last year through Bogosian's natural development. I think our depth has improved without the likes of Ran_y Jones, but I think this is only a minimal improvement. I would like to see my third option inacted, as I think this combined with our offseason improvements on forwards would equal out to a very strong case for making the playoffs. The first option is probably the most likely outcome this year although.

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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