Tobias Enstrom

Myers paired with Enstrom as Jets visit Preds


Tonight in Nashville, Tyler Myers is expected to begin his Winnipeg Jets career on a defensive pairing with veteran puck-mover Tobias Enstrom.

Myers, traded yesterday from Buffalo, is unlikely to log the 25 or so minutes he typically did with the Sabres. That won’t be necessary with two other capable pairings in Winnipeg, Dustin Byfuglien with Ben Chiarot and Mark Stuart with Jacob Trouba.

In Buffalo, Myers skated mostly with Josh Gorges. Not only did those two play big minutes and face the toughest competition on a nightly basis, over 40 percent of the faceoffs they were on the ice for took place in the defensive zone.

That’s no formula for good offensive numbers, and Myers was proof, with just four goals and nine assists in 47 games.

Not that he hasn’t struggled in recent seasons; Myers is no pure victim of circumstance. But Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff believes the 25-year-old’s career can be rejuvenated if provided a better chance to succeed, in a role that’s not beyond his capabilities.

“Tyler’s got a tremendous foundation,” said Cheveldayoff. “He’s big. He can shoot. He’s going to have an opportunity to play with a deeper defense corps. He can log a lot of minutes.

“Sometimes, in this game, fresh starts are really welcome for players that have lots of expectations heaped on them, and lots of hype as young players. Because it is a hard game to play as a young player and even harder as a young defenseman.”

As for winger Drew Stafford, the other roster player the Jets picked up in the Evander Kane trade, he’ll start on a line with Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault, two talented forwards enjoying fine seasons.

Can Myers realize ‘huge upside’? What does the future hold for Byfuglien?


Tyler Myers was finally traded today. Nobody can say it was a shock, as he’d been rumored to be moving on from Buffalo for quite some time.

In Winnipeg, the former Calder Trophy winner will join a defense corps that’s significantly deeper, more experienced and — let’s face it — just a whole lot better than the one he left in Buffalo.

Though the Jets had to give up Zach Bogosian in the multi-player deal with the Sabres, they were still left with d-men Jacob Trouba, Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien, and others.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is confident that Myers will thrive in his new setting and believes the player has “huge upside.”

Time will tell whether Cheveldayoff is proven right. Myers, 25, has had his struggles with the Sabres. But then again, who hasn’t? In Winnipeg, he’ll have better teammates, he won’t have to play as much, and he’ll likely face easier competition.

Heck, right-shooting Myers may actually start on the Jets’ third pairing, with Trouba and Byfuglien playing the right side on the first two pairs.

Which brings us to Byfuglien. The plan for now is to move him back to defense, though that could change depending how the forward group, including new winger Drew Stafford, fares without him.

Long term, the future for Byfuglien in Winnipeg remains cloudy. The 29-year-old is signed through next season, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent. Will the Jets have room to keep him? We ask that both in terms of actual bodies on the blue line as well as cap space.

Remember that the Jets also have highly touted d-man Josh Morrissey in the system, and Trouba, a Norris Trophy candidate in the making, can become a restricted free agent after next season. So, if Myers can realize his “huge upside,” it’s not hard to imagine the club trading Byfuglien before his contract expires, particularly if he’s intent on playing defense, the position he prefers.

Related: Sabres not worried about Evander Kane’s character

Poll: Rush to a judgement and tell us who won the trade


Buffalo and Winnipeg pulled off a blockbuster deal on Wednesday, with the Jets sending Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to Buffalo in exchange for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, a pair of prospects and a first-round pick in 2015.

The trade happened an hour ago, which is about 45 minutes more than it takes to unilaterally declare the winner and loser. Hey, don’t blame me. You know how this works.

Anyway, here are some things to consider.

Why Buffalo won

• You could make the argument Kane was the best player in the deal and, as the old adage states, whoever gets the best player wins. Numerous teams across the NHL expressed major interest in getting Kane but Buffalo acted first and strongest; GM Tim Murray pounced on a situation where the Jets didn’t have much leverage and, as a result, obtained a dynamic, 23-year-old, goalscoring power forward with a good contract (signed through 2018 at $5.25 million per.)

• Kane’s out 4-6 months following shoulder surgery, which means he can’t improve Buffalo’s on-ice product in the present. That keeps the organization on track in the McEichel Derby.

• Buffalo shipped out Myers, who appeared to lack the mental and physical fortitude to be an elite, shut-down, No. 1 defenseman. In Bogosian, they get a physical blueliner that’s actually younger than Myers and under contract through 2019 (with a slightly smaller cap hit: $5.14M to Myers’ $5.5M).

Per Murray, the untouchable prospects were Sam Reinhart, Nikita Zadorov, Rasmus Ristolainen and Marcus Foligno. So he managed to retain all of them while moving Joel Armia (who was drafted under the Darcy Regier regime) and Brendan Lemieux, a second-round pick.

Why Winnipeg won

• They got Myers, who desperately needed a change of scenery and will be asked to do less in Winnipeg (which still has the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tobias Enstrom on defense) than he did in Buffalo (which has one of the NHL’s weakest bluelines.) Myers was also highly coveted across the league.

• They ship out a distraction in Kane, who caused rifts in the dressing room and well-publicized issues with teammates. Could be addition by subtraction, to a certain degree.

• They actually added depth for their playoff run. Roster-wise, Myers is a straight swap for Bogosian and since Kane wasn’t going to play again this year, Drew Stafford — a three-time 20-goal scorer — is a nice get for the top-nine forward group.

•They added Armia and Lemieux to a prospect base that already boasts Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Nic Petan.

So…who won?

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.”