Dustin Byfuglien has been everyone’s favourite defenceman since day one with the Winnipeg Jets. He is big, he can score, and he hits guys hard. Byfuglien has also spent quite a few seasons shuffling between forward and defence as coaches did not know what to do with a big, roaming defenceman. Now that he has settled in as a defender, his results remain as strong as ever and he remains one of the Jets top players.
If there is one criticism to levy at Byfuglien is his play on the power play. One of the frustrating parts about Byfuglien was he would completely ignore Patrik Laine on the power play, effectively neutralizing a key weapon for the Jets. It was apparent that Enstrom did a better job of integrating Laine’s shot into the power play strategy. While Byfuglien might have his own reasons for not utilizing Laine on the power play, it seemed to be at a detriment to the Jets as a whole.
It is pretty obvious where Byfuglien was asked to play with Ben Chiarot when you look at his ability to drive possession is concerned. While there was a time when Byfuglien was able to carry Chiarot and not show much of a decline; not anymore. Now it is obvious when Byfuglien is asked to carry a player and that is not necessarily a bad thing for the Jets. It means that instead of promoting a bottom-pairing defenceman and hoping that Byfuglien can hold the pairing together long enough for the Jets not to fall out of contention, they have to ensure that they have some defensive depth beyond eight bottom pairing guys.
Byfuglien is a key part of the Jets present and near future. There are legitimate questions with him: how long can he maintain his level of play is the main one. And although it has been beaten like a dead horse, the Jets top four is in an extremely precarious position where losing one defenceman will send them into a bit of a tailspin. Byfuglien is in that top four and he is one of the players who is getting older. It might be time to look at developing a replacement for him to supplement Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey in the future. This is the same for Tobias Enstrom. The Jets are always in a dangerous position when a top four defenceman gets injured because there is no one available to replace them even in the short term.
Byfuglien is still an important player for the Jets and one who fans love because his style of play is so much fun. However, he is getting older and the Jets have to start planning for the inevitable day that they have to replace him, even if that day is a few years down the road.