The Winnipeg Jets (then Atlanta Thrashers) made a bold and mostly successful decision to move Dustin Byfuglien back to the blueline after significant success as a forward with the Chicago Blackhawks. Now that transformation is really coming through, as he’s assuming one of the toughest roles: killing penalties.
In his first years with Winnipeg, Byfuglien’s been on the ice in shorthanded situations for just about 30 seconds of his 24+ minutes per night.* So far in 2013-14, the 28-year-old defenseman is devoting 2:28 PK minutes per night of his 24:14 total ice time.
“It’s been good so far, it’s a little different,” Byfuglien said. “But I can read the game fairly well, I know what the offense is thinking and what they’re trying to do.”
As a team, the Jets have some room for improvement in the shorthanded area; they’ve allowed six power-play goals in five games and rookie Jacob Trouba leads defensemen in PK time with almost four and a half minutes of shorthanded time per game.
Still, Byfuglien deserves credit for being willing to expand his horizons (no fat jokes, please) and it’s plausible that the Jets’ PK unit might improve with him.
* – Here are the exact numbers from NHL.com:
2012-13: 30 seconds per game of 24:24 total TOI
2011-12: 25 seconds of 24:06
2010-11: 5 seconds of 23:18