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Pilot's Logbook: Tobias Enstrom

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As the off-season starts up, we are reviewing the play of the Jets. Today is the Prince of Defence: Tobias Enstrom.

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Performance:

Tobias Enstrom is the Winnipeg Jets steadiest defenceman. That does not mean that he is their best defenceman; it means that he is their most reliable. Jacob Trouba is able to elevate Mark Stuart to respectable levels of play, but Trouba is also more erratic in his decision making, partially due to age and experience. Like I wrote earlier in relation to Drew Stafford, possession is not everything and therefore other areas should be considered.

Age is one big concern with Enstrom. He will be 31 in November and that means that he will probably start to enter his decline soon. While untested, it seems as though puck-moving defencemen tend to stay as top players for longer than defensive defencemen. If this holds true, the Jets are in luck because Enstrom is a puck-mover and has very little physicality. The lack of physical play is not a bad thing because Enstrom is able to separate player from puck with ease and make plays at a high level. He is not a specimen and he is not a perfect defender, but he is able to cover his flaws and protect his partner with ease.

Enstrom started off the year with Zach Bogosian as his everyday partner. When Bogosian was hurt, Paul Postma filled in nicely as Enstrom's partner. When Postma was hurt and Bogosian was traded, Enstrom played alongside Tyler Myers.

Enstrom is an interesting study as he is a defenceman with offensive capabilities who tends to not generate much offence in terms of shots and points. Oddly enough it is shot suppression where Enstrom shines. Long known for having a long stick, Enstrom's ability to adeptly thwart off rushes by other teams make him a big asset, especially because the Jets seem to lack basic defensive intelligence some nights. Enstrom is also skilled enough that he can carry the puck out of the zone instead of dumping it out. This is important because carry-outs help ensure that the puck gets out cleanly and does not come right back into the zone.

Enstrom is not a very good point producer 5 on 5, but his ability to get the puck into the attacking zone is important. Enstrom may not put up points, but he does the things that help others put up points. There is value in that, even if that value is rarely recognized outside of those who enjoy working with analytics.

Future:

Enstrom is still a very good defenceman for the Jets. He is the lone bright spot on a dismal left-hand side. What is not known is how long he can sustain his level of play or at least remain close to it. The Jets main concern should be building up depth behind Enstrom and retaining Enstrom for the remained of his contract unless signs of potential fall-off start to show themselvs. Enstrom's ability to fit with any defender makes him valuable to the Jets. The fact he is the only skilled left-side defender makes him super valuable as well. If the Jets lose him to free-agency, they could be in for a bit of pain while his replacement finds his feet.