The Winnipeg Jets boast some polarizing players such as Evander Kane and Ondrej Pavelec, but none of them are quite like Dustin Byfuglien.
Really, the NHL has seen few – if any – specimens who resemble Big Buff. The Jets franchise’s recent track record of moves suggests that they’re happy to watch their core grow, yet some might wonder if the team would be wise to part ways with their hybrid defenseman-forward.
Let’s break down the factors at hand.
Breakdown is actually a useful phrase because some might worry that Byfuglien’s greatest asset – his mammoth size – might also be his greatest curse.
There’s no doubt that people wonder about his weight; in fact, his condition will almost certainly be a story – good or bad – once Jets training camp rolls around.
More seriously, he’s had some knee problems and other concerns, which is troubling since he’s already 28. While there are examples of players aging like wine, many only get worse with time (especially those with questionable fitness regimens).
Word snobs fuss about the over-use of the word unique, but it might be appropriate when it comes to Byfuglien.
With the possible exception of Brent Burns, not many players can switch from forward to defense (or vice versa) and make an All-Star team that following season.
Some wonder if Byfuglien’s defensive play is lacking, yet others find that he’s been passable (if not good) in that regard.
And, really, Byfuglien’s offensive value as a rover likely makes up the difference. While his booming shot is a few miles per hour short of Zdeno Chara’s slapper, Byfuglien is often more daring when it comes to attacking the net and freelancing around the offensive zone.
It’s one thing to know when and where a scary shot is coming from, but what happens when that threat is more improvisational?
A tough call
In the grand scheme of things, it might come down to context.
The Jets could very well decide that he’s valuable, but the team might benefit more from a package that includes prospects and picks. At $5.2 million per season, he’s likely being paid properly, yet that might be just costly enough to prompt management to move on.
What do you think, though? Should the Jets stick with their big, unusual asset or sell him off to the highest bidder?
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