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.”