Dustin Byfuglien Shoots for Career Year with Winnipeg Jets

By Patrick Schmidt


James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien enters his third season with the club looking to establish himself as one of the elite at the position after posting back-to-back 53-point seasons.

Byfuglien came to Winnipeg after winning a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks where his play on the wings and in front of the net proved to be one of the integral players on the Blackhawks as they made their run in the playoffs. After being a salary cap casualty in Chicago, Byfuglien made the transition back to the blue line where he posted career-highs with 20 goals in 2010-2011 and assists with 41 in 2011-2012.

The 6-5 265lbs. Byfuglien has faced questions about his conditioning throughout his career and after battling through injuries in 2011-2012, Byfuglien appears to be in the best shape of his career five games into his eighth season. With five points in the Jets first four games, Byfuglien is poised to enter the hierarchy of elite defensemen of the league.

With 43 points on the power play over the past two seasons Byfuglien is already one of the best players with the man advantage with his heavy shot and offensive skills he honed while playing forward in Chicago. But Byfuglien has improved his game when both teams are at even strength and has seen him ice time increase each of the last three seasons of a result of his improved play on the back end and is averaging a career-high 26:53 of ice time on the young season.

Byfuglien is a key to the sustained success of the Jets, who entered Saturday, tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with five points and can challenge for the division lead in the Southwest division.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on Sportstownchicago.com airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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