After Toby Enstrom left the Winnipeg Jets to become the Hometown Hockey Hero Örnsköldsvik needs, the Winnipeg Jets have needed to fill the small, but substantial Enstrom-sized hole beside Dustin Byfuglien. There was speculation that the Jets would simply allow for internal competition to take place as the defence market was not a particularly good one last off-season.
The Jets however, have found themselves in a bit of a pickle. Instead of trying out numerous candidates for the coveted spot beside Byfuglien, Paul Maurice has decided to continue to force square pegs into round holes and is currently trying to force Tyler Myers to be the man to play with Byfuglien. Myers, a terrific third pairing defenceman who can play on the second pair on his strong side, is not meant to play on his off-side.
Now, the obvious candidate to try alongside Byfuglien is Finnish sensation Sami Niku. Who is Sami Niku? Only the AHL Defenceman of the Year last year as a rookie. Niku has not been given a shot alongside Byfuglien yet and according two friend of the blog MaxTheSilent, he is having issues with his gap control. That can be remedied though and Niku is a good defenceman so he should at least be the first call up for the Jets.
The Jets could simply have Byfuglien carry Ben Chiarot or Joe Morrow as a partner for the season, but that hardly seems prudent. While both are solid seventh/eighth defenceman options, they are not good in the top four. If you think Morrow would be a good partner for Byfuglien, ask Montreal Canadiens fans how he did in the top four there last season. He is adequate, but nothing more than that.
The Jets can replace Enstrom internally, but it might take them some time. Niku might need to start the season in the AHL and work up to a call-up. While the Jets could have looked at external candidate, and probably did, there were no appropriate replacements available and they did well to look internally instead. Now it is up to those players being considered to see who can grab the bull by the horns during the regular season and solidify the Jets second pair.