The month of December ended on a high note for the Jets, as they won the last three games of the month. But ever since 2014 came along, absolutely nothing has been going the way the Jets have wanted them to. They have dropped four games in a row, albeit they did play top teams in the East. But a good team is able to steal points from stronger teams, which the Jets have struggled to do all season.
Byfuglien is infamous for being a player that acts as a double edged sword. He is always among the league-leaders in points among defenseman, as he now sits third with 34 points in 46 games. But more importantly in my mind, he is a -16 and is second in the league in turnovers.
Claude Noel’s strategies have been questioned throughout his stay in Winnipeg. To provide some sort of spark to his team, Noel moved Dustin Byfuglien from the point up to forward. When Byfuglien won his Stanley Cup with Chicago, many can remember Byfuglien being a force up front with the Blackhawks. He has had short stints up front this season, but nothing extended.
What Byfuglien could provide up front is something the Jets are desperately needing. Other then Kane, there really isn’t an offensive threat that fills up the ice. Players tend to gravitate around certain players once they hit the ice. When Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, or Pavel Datsyuk are on the ice, everyone takes notice and tends to pay close attention to these players, opening up more ice for other players. In no way am I saying Byfuglien is on the same level as these players, but he takes up a lot of ice and is always an offensive threat.
There are a lot of upsides of putting one of the biggest players in the league on the attack. Like I previously said, he takes up A LOT of ice with his size. Also, imagine being a defender knowing Big Buff is coming to put you through the glass. With the tough, grinding, dump and chase method the Jets seemed to have adopted, opposing defenders will think twice about going into the corner to fetch the puck with Byfuglien coming right behind them. He does have a deadly shot, and him crashing the net can only do good things for the team. The move would also lessen game-changing turnovers, which Byfuglien has seemed to have perfected over this season.
There are obviously some negatives if Noel does try to put the 265lbs American up front. His speed has always been in question. So would he be able to backcheck effectively, especially since Pavelec has not been able to make key saves at key moments? He does log the highest minute totals on the team, but defensive minutes are a lot different than for a forward. Would he able to fill the spot immediately? This is obviously just a trial for Noel, but would he be able to be in position, or would he just rover like he does on D? Also, who would drop down the depth chart?
Even though this is only one practice having Byfuglien change positions, but in a way it’s like getting a whole new player. We know what he’s capable of doing on the blue line (tons of points and turnovers) but we have only seen Byfuglien play forward for a couple shifts. I wouldn’t mind seeing the change. At this point, anything to provide a spark for a team as flat as the land we live on is a welcoming sight.
What do you think? Should Noel try throwing Byfuglien into the top six? Should we leave him there and get our “real” forwards going? Or is he just too much of a liability and trade the former all-star? Let me know in the comment section or tweet me @JeffJaisman
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