Dustin Byfuglien Getty

Winnipeg Columnist: Byfuglien’s gotta go


Since being traded by the Chicago Blackhawks and transitioning back to the blueline, Dustin Byfuglien has emerged as one of the league’s most productive defenseman from an offensive perspective.

But is that enough to warrant his $5,200,000 cap hit and leading role on the Winnipeg Jets? Winnipeg Free Press writer Gary Lawless doesn’t seem to think so. He argued that Byfuglien has become a roadblock for the team.

Here’s his case against Byfuglien:

There are all sorts of issues that add up to this result but Byfuglien is a major part of the formula that hasn’t produced.

The 28-year-old Minnesota native played in 43 games this season, scoring eight goals and 20 assists. Solid offensive numbers, but too often the production came at a cost. The Jets were among the worst defensive teams in the league, ranked 25th with 141 goals against.

Byfuglien, as one of the blue-line leaders in ice time and opportunity, wears much of that responsibility. He can take one’s breath away with a rush up ice but he can also produce great angst with his lack of defensive awareness.

Keeping him in such a key position no longer makes sense. It isn’t working.

There’s been talk about Byfuglien changing his game to be more balanced and less of a risk. It hasn’t materialized into a consistent reality.

His fitness issue was supposed to be addressed and resolved. Hasn’t happened. It may have gotten worse.

Lawless argued that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff should trade Byfuglien, unless Cheveldayoff believes that the blueliner is on the brink of a breakthrough.

There’s bound to be a market for Byfuglien if Winnipeg does decide to shop him. Plenty of teams need a minutes-eating blueliner that can play a key role with the man advantage.

Of course, with that in mind, the Jets might keep Byfuglien off the market this summer.

Goal-starved Flyers recall AHL Phantoms leading scorer Cousins

Nazem Kadri
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Desperate for offense, Philly made a fairly noteworthy move on Friday — Nick Cousins has been brought up from the minors.

Cousins, 22, has been a solid scorer at the AHL level in each of the last two seasons. He led Lehigh Valley with 56 points in 64 games in ’14-15 and, this year, has 18 through 15 — putting him in a tie for seventh in league scoring.

The former OHL Sault Ste. Marie standout does have some NHL experience, having played 11 games for the Flyers last season. He averaged just under nine minutes per game over that span, and failed to register a point.

Looking ahead, Cousins could make his season debut today, when Philly hosts the Preds. Right now it’s unclear where he’d fit in the lineup.

To make room for Cousins on the roster, the Flyers sent Taylor Leier down to the Phantoms.


NHL on NBC Doubleheader: Rangers vs. Bruins; ‘Hawks vs. Ducks

Rick Nash, Ryan Spooner
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After a break in the schedule on Thursday, the NHL is back with a full slate of games on Friday.

It all gets underway at 1:00 p.m. ET when the Rangers take on the Bruins on NBC.

Boston is coming off a 3-2 OT win over Detroit on Wednesday night to extend their winning streak to four games.

Although backup Jonas Gustavsson has been between the pipes for two of the four wins, there’s no denying that Tuukka Rask‘s improved play is a big reason for Boston’s turnaround.

The 28-year-old is 4-2-0 in his last six starts and he’s given up 13 goals (five came in one game against the Sharks) during that span.

The Bruins have won each of their last two home games, but are still just 4-6-1 at the TD Garden this season.

New York didn’t go into the Thanksgiving break the way they had hoped.

The Rangers are coming off a 5-1 loss, on home ice, to the Montreal Canadiens.

Henrik Lundqvist was pulled for the first time all season after he allowed five goals on 24 shots.

The 33-year-old’s rough outing was presumably just a blip on the radar, as he comes into this game with a 12-4-2 record, a 1.94 goals-against-average and a .939 save percentage.

New York currently sits atop the Metropolitan division with 34 points.

At 5:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN will broadcast the rematch of last year’s Western Conference final between the Ducks and ‘Hawks.

After a brutal month of October that saw them win just one of their 10 games, the Ducks have been slightly better in November.

Anaheim opened the month with a four-game winning streak only to drop their following three games. They’ve alternated wins and losses in their last eight contests.

Ryan Getzlaf has six points in his last two games (all assists), but it’s clear that the Ducks need more from him.

The 30-year-old has always been a pass-first player, but one goal in 19 games just isn’t cutting it.

A guy who’s having no trouble finding the back of the net is ‘Hawks forward Patrick Kane.

The 27-year-old comes into this game with 13 goals and 34 points in 22 games in ’15-16.

He’s riding a 17-game point streak and has found his name on the scoresheet in all but two games this season.

Chicago currently sits in fourth place in the Central division.


New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, 1 p.m. ET, NBC

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks, 5 p.m. ET, NBCSN

For online viewing information via NBC Sports’ Live Extra, click here.

PHT Morning Skate: General Managers around the league are happy for Bergevin

Marc Bergevin
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Montreal Canadiens gave Marc Bergevin a contract extension on Wednesday and fellow General Managers around the league are happy for their colleague. (TSN)

Are the Washington Capitals the best team in the Eastern Conference? (ESPN)

Here’s a funny cartoon depiction of the reported feud between Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby:

Read an excerpt from Tie Domi’s book “shift work”. In this portion of the book, he talks about some crazy times at a New York City nightclub. (ESPN)

“It’s a lot more complicated than the net and the goalie equipment, it’s the systems that teams play, the willingness of players to block shots every part of their body.” Steven Stamkos weighs in on the decreasing number of goals in the NHL. (Tampa Tribune)

After the first quarter of the season, Henrik Lundqvist is NHL.com’s favorite to land the Vezina Trophy. (NHL.com)

Matt Beleskey donated 400 pies to various charitable organizations around Boston.

Preds place Salomaki on IR, recall Sissons

Jake Allen, Miikka Salomaki
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Nashville made a minor roster transaction on Thursday, putting forward Miikka Salomaki on IR while recalling fellow forward Colton Sissons from AHL Milwaukee.

Salomaki, 22, was a fairly regular lineup presence through the of November, appearing in eight games while averaging just under 12 minutes per night. Despite his relatively small frame (5-foot-11, 198 pounds), he racked up 28 hits over that time and emerged as a decent energy guy for the Preds.

As for Sissons, he’s about to get yet another crack with the parent club.

Having spent most of the last two seasons in Milwaukee, Sissons — the 50th overall pick in 2012 — has seen some action with the Preds this year. He has one goal in five games with Nashville, and eight points in 12 games with the Admirals.