Jay Harrison

Crowded blueline: Jets ink Postma to two-year, $1.775M deal


Having already re-upped with Adam Pardy and Ben Chiarot this summer, the Jets retained another depth defenseman on Friday by giving Paul Postma a two-year, $1.775 million extension.

The deal, which carries an $887,500 cap hit, comes after Postma appeared in a career-high 42 games last year, averaging 14:08 TOI per night. The 26-year-old was a lineup regular for the first three months of the season, but phased out in the second half of the campaign due to healthy scratches and a lower-body injury.

This extension puts Postma firmly back in the mix, however, and it’s a crowded mix…

Right now, there are 10 blueliners in the fold: Pardy, Chiarot, Postma, Trouba, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Mark Stuart, Jay Harrison and Grant Clitsome, who is coming off back surgery. While it’s not surprising to see Winnipeg stockpile bodies — injuries ravaged the defense last year — it’ll be interesting to see if the Jets can carry this many contracts, or if a trade will eventually be orchestrated.

Worth mentioning the Jets also have touted prospect Josh Morrissey, the 13th overall pick in 2013, on the horizon.

With Myers hurt, slumping Jets recall Ellerby

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For the second time this season, Winnipeg is suffering through a rash of injuries on defense.

Already without the services of Dustin Byfuglien (upper body), Ben Chiarot (hand) and Grant Clitsome (back), the Jets saw Tyler Myers go down to injury in last night’s loss to Florida and, today, were forced to recall Keaton Ellerby from AHL St. John’s.

Ellerby, 26, has yet to appear in a game for the Jets this season after playing 51 a year ago. The former Panther and King has dressed for 41 games with the IceCaps this season, scoring three goals and 16 points.

The Jets are reeling at the moment, having lost three of their last four, and it’s fair to suggest their disjointed blueline has played factor. With Myers now possibly out for Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay, the club could be dressing a defense comprised of Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Jay Harrison, Adam Pardy, Mark Stuart and Paul Postma — hardly the idea unit for a team desperate to make the playoffs.

Jets’ Chiarot breaks hand in fight, out six weeks


The second scrap of Ben Chiarot’s NHL career was a costly one.

Chiarot, who fought Daniel Winnik during Winnipeg’s 4-3 loss to Toronto on Saturday, busted his hand in the brawl and will miss the next six weeks after undergoing surgery, head coach Paul Maurice confirmed on Monday.

The 23-year-old rookie, called up during Winnipeg’s rash of defensive injuries in December, worked his way into the lineup and never left. He’s played 36 games since the recall, scoring two goals and eight points — eighth among rookie d-men this season — all while averaging over 16 minutes per night.

The six-week timetable for recovery means that Chiarot would be eligible to return in early-to-mid-April, which is right around the time the Jets conclude their regular season (last game is against Calgary on April 11.)

While Winnipeg will miss Chiarot’s contributions, it is well equipped to replace him. Both Jay Harrison and Paul Postma were healthy scratches against Toronto, and both are viable candidates to draw back in when the Jets host Dallas on Tuesday.

An All-Star on defense, Byfuglien can’t see himself returning to forward


COLUMBUS, OH — Big Buff’s a blueliner. Just ask him.

During All-Star media availability at Nationwide on Friday, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien made it clear he wants to keep playing defense for the Jets, even though the club projects to have nine healthy d-men at the conclusion of the ASG break.

“Nothing’s really come out yet, but I can’t see myself going back to forward,” Byfuglien said, when asked if head coach Paul Maurice had confirmed a permanent spot on defense. “I hope not.”

So, does that mean he wants to stick on the blueline for good?

“I think that’d be a little better,” he replied.

Not a surprising response. Byfuglien, who’s moved back and forth between forward and defense throughout his 10-year career, has now made the All-Star game for the second time as a rearguard; the first came in 2011, when he represented the Atlanta Thrashers and went on to finish seventh in Norris Trophy voting.

This year, Byfuglien began the year as a forward but was called into defensive duty when Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom went down to injury. Maurice made the switch on Dec. 5 and the results have been fantastic: Byfuglien has 20 points in 22 games with a plus-7 rating, and has logged some absolutely massive TOI totals, including this eight-game stretch in January:


Not coincidentally, the Jets have gone 13-5-4 since the 6-foot-5, 265-pounder made the move.

The only issue, as mentioned above, is Winnipeg’s current surplus of defensemen. Enstrom, Bogosian and Trouba are all big-minute guys themselves (each averages more than 22 per game) while the likes of Mark Stuart, Ben Chiarot, Jay Harrison, Paul Postma and Adam Pardy have all made significant contributions this season as well.

Regardless, Byfuglien wants to stay on D.

“It wasn’t an easy task to do, but in Winnipeg we’ve changed our gameplan and our systems, so to go back on D now and have such a big impact right away, it’s nice,” he explained. “The way our team’s been playing, it just makes it easier to play.”

Related: In praise of Dustin Byfuglien

And just like that, the Jets are loaded on defense


On Jan. 5, Brough wrote a post titled “Get a load of the expected Winnipeg defense tonight against San Jose,” a piece that highlighted the Jets’ depleted defense and what was left — specifically, a top-six of Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Chiarot, Jay Harrison, Paul Postma, Adam Pardy and Julien Broulliette.

What a difference a few weeks makes.

Byfuglien used the time to emerge as an All-Star calibre blueliner while the likes of Mark Stuart, Zach Bogosian and Tobias Enstrom returned to health; tonight against Columbus, the Jets will welcome back another key d-man as Jacob Trouba (upper body) will play for the first time since Dec. 13.

Which gives Winnipeg the following pairings:


Ah, the luxuries afforded. Jets head coach Paul Maurice will now rest Stuart — who averages over 19 minutes per game — tonight, even though he’s healthy enough to play; the Jets’ “fourth” pairing of Pardy and Postma are on the outside looking in, even though Pardy played over 20 minutes in that aforementioned tilt against San Jose and Postma’s appeared in 41 of Winnipeg’s 47 games this season.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Jets do moving forward. Would they consider moving Byfuglien back to forward after his emergence on defense? And happens if, following the All-Star break, they’ve got nine healthy NHL defensemen?

Maurice didn’t want to touch the latter.

“I’ve stood in this situation far too many times to try and jinx the idea that everybody would be healthy in a week,” he said, per the Jets website. “That’s a guaranteed ‘you’re down four again’ comment, so we’ll deal with that situation if we’re fortunate enough to be in it.”