Dustin Byfuglien is going back up front.
The Winnipeg defenseman, who began his career as a forward, skated on the club’s top line with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little at Friday’s practice and will reprise that role tomorrow against Columbus, according to head coach Claude Noel.
“We’re trying to find ways to win,” Noel said, per the Jets’ Twitter account. “He can be a guy that can have an impact in the game.”
Byfuglien, 28, broke in with Chicago as a winger and enjoyed great success during the Cup-winning 2009-10 season, scoring 17 goals during the regular season and 11 more in 22 playoff games. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder emerged as a persistent net-front presence and quality option on the power play, where he scored 11 PPG in the regular and postseason combined.
That said, he’s enjoyed equal success as a rearguard.
Byfuglien was moved back to his natural defensive spot upon being traded to Atlanta — twice making the All Star game — but desperate times have called for desperate measures, as the Jets are on a four-game winless skid and generated just 14 shots in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to Tampa.
“I’m looking to try and get some people going offensively,” Noel said in explaining the Byfuglien move. “What I’m hoping to accomplish, not only with one line, is positive production.”
Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.
Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.
The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.
Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.
Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.
Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.
The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.
The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.