The Winnipeg Jets showed this season that they are just a few pieces short of being a legitimate playoff contender. As they prepare for a 2013-14 season that will have them playing in the Western Conference, the Jets know they have some great defensemen on their team but could stand to add another experienced veteran. Zach Bogosian and Zach Redmond continue to develop into great young players, but this defense corps is led by Dustin Byfuglien. Now ready for his fourth season with the Thrashers/Jets franchise, Byfuglien turned in an impressive 2013 season that went largely unnoticed.
No one on the team logs more minutes that Byfuglien, and no other defenseman is as productive on the offensive end of the ice. Byfuglien finished fifth on the team in scoring with eight goals and 28 points, which in comparison to prior full seasons was one of his best seasons yet. Last season saw the former Chicago Blackhawks forward net 12 goals and record 53 points, but that was in 66 games. He played in 43 contests this season, and proved to be very effective in the shortened season. Byfuglien finished the season with a minus-1 rating, but once again proved he is one of the team’s top threats on the power play. Four of his goals and 10 points came with the man-advantage, which was good enough to lead the team in that category.
As the Jets try and reach the postseason, a player like Byfuglien who has been there before is a great presence in the locker room. Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd also bring experience, and the Jets need to take advantage of having all of these players in the fold by bringing in the right complementary pieces in the offseason.