Dustin Byfuglien, Person of Interest?


Big Dustin Byfuglien has been a fixture in trade rumours the last few years, and a favoured whipping boy of the Winnipeg press. I’ve said before that he’d be a fantastic fit on the Oilers’ blue line, but the people who run the team don’t spend a lot of time asking me for my view of Edmonton’s defence corps.

But I bet they talk to new defensive coach Craig Ramsay about it, and few NHL coaches could speak as authoritatively about Byfuglien’s utility on the back end.

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Craig Ramsay

Along with virtually half the Blackhawks, Byfuglien was dumped to Atlanta in the summer of 2010 as Chicago struggled to get itself under the NHL salary cap.

Craig Ramsay was the new head coach of the Thrashers at that time, and he had an interesting plan for the right wing.

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The results were everything anybody could have hoped for, as Byfuglien logged more than 19 minutes per night at even strength on the Atlanta blue line, putting him comfortably in the top-20 of NHL defencemen in minutes played. He was effective, too, as a quick look at the Norris Trophy voting from that season confirms:

Rk. Player Votes
1 Nicklas Lidstrom 736
2 Shea Weber 727
3 Zdeno Chara 688
4 Lubomir Visnovsky 573
5 Keith Yandle 312
6 Kris Letang 144
7 Dustin Byfuglien 33
8 Christian Ehrhoff 28
9 Duncan Keith 24
10 Carle, Doughty, Pronger 8

Here & Now

The end of season quotes on Byfuglien’s future were pretty interesting.

Dustin Byfuglien on whether he will be staying at forward:

I hope not. It’s been done before so it wasn’t the end of the world. I just had to go do my job and that’s it. Yeah, I always prefer defence first, but whatever they tell me to do, I’ll just go do.

Head coach Paul Maurice on whether Dustin Byfuglien will be staying at forward:

Dustin will be starting at forward.


Defensive mess

Byfuglien would instantly be the best defenceman in the Oilers’ system.

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He’d add a heavy shot at the right point of the power play, something Edmonton has lacked for a while now. He’d add some size on the back end (6’5”, 265 pounds) and as his 213 hits this season show he isn’t afraid to use it. He’s 29 years old and under contract for two more years.

But the biggest point is the first one: Byfuglien would instantly be the best defenceman in the Oilers’ system.


  • camdog

    Yes lets trade our grittiest..2nd most consistent player for a guy who has a reputation of being out of shape..makes boneheaded end to end rushes causing in turnovers..doesnt have enough gas to get into position..doesnt listen to coaches and hates the media.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I see what ur saying here, but he would instantly be the oilers best D. If the oil could get one more D on the above lists, Buff would make a great #2 here

      What about trading for Byfuglin, and trying to sign one of he UFA D out there?

      • Wax Man Riley

        You betcha, on a better team, better city with teammates he actually likes and has history with! Like Ladd..

        No one wants to go to the Oilers to play with a bunch of kids that don’t know defence. Bogosian, Enstrom and Stuart all got NMC’s here for a reason. They like playing in Winnipeg and to avoid going to places like Edmonton.

        • BlazingSaitls

          Im happy Jets are back but we all can admit the honeymoon is long over. Jets had many games last year that were not sell-outs. I read an article that even blamed the cold, lol. Say what you will about Edmonton one thing you cant take away are the die hards that continually pack home games. Some can interpret it as naivety but Oilers fans honeymoon is never over. When the Oil do start to win, and it will happen, it wont be the Siberian wasteland of the NHL anymore. We love hockey too damn much and there are NHL players that appreciate that.

        • a lg dubl dubl

          It’s all about winning for “most” players. So if a team is playing well enough to be a perenial playoff team. Or they are looking like a major upswing is going to happen then players will not be so reluctant to go there. Detroit is a terrible city for example but players rarely balk at a trade there. unfortunately for the Oilers they have not shown themselves to be on the upswing as of yet. So major selling will have to take place or slight overpays will need to occur if its a UFA.

          With the young talent assembled and on the way I could see the tide turning for the Oilers in attracting free agents and/or the oilers name to become a little less frequent on a players No trade team list.

          Edmonton due to location will always be out there as a team players generally may not want to go to. But in my opinion when the team is winning this is somewhat of a built in character barometer on players we don’t want anyways. See Nylander/Heatley for examples of dodged bullets thanks to players perception of the city.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          get a kick out of those who claim that Winnipeg is a “better” city than Edmonton. how so? and the only reason these players signed long term in Winnipeg was because of the huge money being offered and the long length of the contract. also, only Enstrom amd Bogosian have actual NMC, the rest have modified or limited movement, so if they want out, they can probably get it.

          • Wax Man Riley

            Who said anything about winnipeg being the better city? I believe the point being made is they’re a better team(undeniable) and players don’t want to play on the worst team in the league.

          • HardBoiledOil 1.0

            actually, @Milos did on post #55. maybe read it before commenting next time. and how does anyone here know for sure whether the Jets players “don’t want to play on the “worst” team in the league”? worst run? perhaps, but Buffalo, Islanders and Florida are poorly run as well, regardless of occasional playoff appearances.

      • bwar

        I think anyone would rather play in winnipeg on a decent team then come to edmonton and join this sh!t show!! Oh wait I forgot, any year now this teams gonna take off and become a dynasty again….. *pours another glass of koolaid

      • WeridAl

        Short memory, when Atlanta move to Winnipeg, Buf made noises about not wanting to play in Canada. Highly doubtful he’ll want to got to a team that is a year or 2 from the playoffs.

    • Wax Man Riley

      You’re forgetting something though: right now he plays in Winnipeg.

      I love having the Jets back in the league if only for one fact when players are traded from Winnipeg:

      At least it’s not Winnipeg.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Dustin Bufyglien is a 3.25 EVGA dman facing 2nd Comp.
    there are 30 forwards that could cover for a EVGA that is .92 EVGA below the league average of 2.33 EVGA.

    Hall-RNH- Eberle were not one of them.

    What right minded person would want a dman. that puts you in such a terrible goal differential disadvantage.

    It destroys any ability of winning.
    See N. schultz-J. schultz last year.

    LAK have 5 of the top 10 EVAG dmen in the game,
    those dmen have great Even assist rates /60 at .45 EVA/60 or greater.

    #4 Martinez 1.37 EVGA/60 .45 EVA/60
    #6 M. Greene 1.50 EVGA/60 .49 EVA/60
    #8 Mitchell 1.61 EVGA/60 .44 EVA/60
    #9 Muzzin 1.63 EVGA/60 .72 EVA/60
    #10 Voyovov 1.66 EVGA/60 70 EVA/60
    #30 Doughty 1.85 EVGA/60 .50 EVA/60

    you need this standard of EVGA/60 and EVA rate with a top 10 Sve% goalie inside the chance area.
    LAK have #7 Quick
    We have #3 Scrivens.

    the oilers had the 3rd best Dman for keeping shots outside the chance area last year.

    Marincin a top 20 EVGAdman facing 1st comp .

    Ufa Dmen Available

    #6 Greene 3rd comp/3rd team

    #8 Mitchell 2nd comp 2nd team

    #14 Bellimore 1.73 EVGA/60 .37 EVA/60 1st comp /3rd team

    #19 Diaz 1.78 EVGA/60 .48 EVA/60 2nd comp/ 4th team

    #22 Niskanen 1,81 EVGA/60 .97 EVA/ 60 1st comp/ 1st comp

    #23 Nikitin 1.81 EVGA/60 .78 EVA/60 3rd comp/3rd comp

    #52 Marincin 2.08 EVGA/60 .36 EVA/60 1st comp/ 4th team

    #75 Ference 2.19 EVGA/60 .63 EVA/60 2nd comp/ 2nd team

    #9() Petry 2.24 EVGA/60 .72 EVA/60 before Eakins.1st comp / 1st team

    Bufyglien 3,25 EVGA/60
    He is a Loser by EVGA.
    Except for a sheltered 3rd pairing cup run in 2010 were Campbell; Sopel; Seabrook; Hjarlmasson were the difference making D.

    Start with
    Ference-M. greene

    Remember EVGA
    LAK; 5of top 10 EVGA
    CHI; 4 of top 60
    BOS 5 of top 20
    CHI: 4 of 60
    SJS 4 of 75
    when looking at a teams top 6.
    Lak are not kidding when they say the think they could win quite a lot more cups.

    Start with
    Bellimore (1.73) -Petry (2.20)
    Marincin (2.08) – Niskanen (1.81)
    Ference (2.19) -M. greene (1.60)
    Would love Boychuck over Ference

    Byfuglien 3.25

    Weber with SUTER 2.05

    Weber this year 2.79

    Kulikov 3.47

    Meyers 3.06

    j. Schultz 3.08

    Coburn 2.81

    Subban 2.70

  • Spydyr

    I have wanted big Buff on the Oilers since Chicago’s 2010 Cup run.It was greatly disappointing to see him go to Atlanta and I have always wondered if the Oilers even made a play for him.

    Getting him now would still be wonderful but some of these trades that give up the farm for him are ludicrous.I bet you could get him for Perron and a prospect say Musil.Just not Marancin ,Nurse, our first pick the next two years or Klefbom.

  • The Last Big Bear

    To Other Team:
    Overpaid player who’s played his way off the roster of a 25th-30th place team, a defence prospect who’s been judged expendable by the worst defence corps in the NHL, and a 3rd round pick

    To Edmonton Oilers: A big-minutes, All-Star, impact player.

    Rinse, repeat.

  • Zarny

    H.F Day to those many dad’s out here and there!!!

    Although I like the big Buffer myself, I for one would not give up Ebs, Perron or the 3rd over-all this year for him.

    The top 6 is just coming into shape for the Oilers right now with Hall, Ebs, RNH, Perron…and what is last to add is a 2nd line centre and one more proven winger. getting rid of Ebs and Perron now would be anothger setback for the Oilers we DON’T NEED!!!

    Buffer is a very good type D-man to have on the Oilersw but trading for him should only take a straight up of Gagner or Yakupov, or maybe Petry … and either a prospect like Musil or a mid round pick… nothing more. These two young ones are great youngsters but they’re having difficulty providing the Oil good top 6 play time. But with Winnipeg either of Gags or Yak could do well playing there.

    Nurse, Marancin, Schultz, Gernat, Davidson, and Simpson are making up the new very near future of the Oilers and none of these should be gone either. I guess the draft of either Ekblad or one of the centres (Bennett, Reinhart, Draisaitl) would then dictate the trade possibility with Winnipeg by July 1st.

    • Dockstaff

      I agree with WhataMike except for the straight up trade. A top 4 Dman, that makes good plays, good checks and can laser it from Blue line, is very valuable in this league. The fact that Buf is all of those makes him worth more than any one price the Oil would wish to pay with. Buf isn’t elite, and I don’t think anyone here has said that yet, but his type is few and far between. Skilled forwards are far easier to find… We have six!

  • Dan 1919

    I agree, Byfuglien falls into the category of instant improvement and best dman and would definitely help the Oilers if the Jets are looking for solid prospects, not an Eberle.

    Byfuglien, Phaneuf rumours… hopefully something materializes this off season. That is the kind of big help the Oilers will need to even dream of making the playoffs, and more than that would very likely be needed too.

    Any comment on the Phaneuf rumours J. Willis? Any truth to them in your eyes, or just speculation of him going everywhere because he is one of the famous NHL whipping boys (like Byfuglien).

  • The Last Big Bear

    Ottawa can offer a deal based on Jason Spezza. Philly can make an offer involving Coutourier or Schenn. Toronto could swap problems by offering Phaneuf. Along with guys like Mike Richards, Brad Richards, Ryan Kesler, etc, these are all players either openly or rumored to be on the trading block.

    That is the kind of return the Jets can reasonably expect for Byfuglien.

    Not Sammy Snowpants and some throw-ins.

    If the Jets are actively shopping Byfuglien, they’ve probably called Ottawa to at least ask about Spezza. They’ve probably called Philly to see what they might be willing to offer.

    I absolutely, with 100% certainty GUARANTEE YOU, that the Jets have NOT called Edmonton asking if Petry is available for a possible Byfuglien trade.

    • Dan 1919

      Haha I agree, way to lay it out, most trade posts on here seem to think that the other team should be happy with players that haven’t panned out for the Oilers.

      Depending on what else the Jets are offered, I think the Oilers have enough d-prospects to make a realistic proposal without throwing in an Eberle.

      It may involve moving some of these new “untouchables” like Simpson or Marincins according to other fans.

      Klefbom, Nurse, JShultz, Simpson, Marincin, Petry.

      I would prefer to keep Nurse from that group and trade any other two if it drastically improves the team with a bonified NHL’er.

      Edit: 100% trade prospects for an NHL’er if Ekblad is landed

  • a lg dubl dubl

    JW, you clearly have not figured this one out!

    Just how is Dustin supposed to play in Edmonton without any donuts available ? I understand part of his contract in Winnipeg clearly states, donuts should be available prior, during and after a hockey game.

    This article is moot since Eakins has banned donuts ………I know this will not sit well with the Big Buff, look south to Calgary where there are lot’s of donuts!

  • Word to the Bird

    I wonder how the UFA market will treat the Oilers. Players like Niskanen, Markov, Stastny and perhaps Brad Richards could potentially be headed here.

    As for Buff, I for one would welcome him with open arms to the team IF the asking price isn’t Ebs. If Phaneuf was gotten on the Oil for cheap as well the defense would suddenly not look half bad…

    • Wax Man Riley

      I hate to say it… and trash away…. but I would take both Dustins back no problem. DP on my 3rd line and DB on the 2nd pair.

      Now about that #1 D…

      • Dockstaff

        Penner has a use, just not $5M worth, just don’t let KLowe near the chequebook. But we don’t need bottom six forwards we need a guy Penner’s size that can move the puck and play against the other guy’s best.

  • Lyxdeslic

    Is it just me, or is Winnipeg a shining example of how size doesn’t necessarily translate to success. Don’t get me wrong, I want the Oilers to add size desperately, especially to their top 6, but It’s just interesting to witness Winnipeg’s struggle when their core players are massive.

    Olli Jokinen 6’2, 210lbs
    Evander Kane 6’2, 195lbs
    Mark Scheifele 6’2, 195lbs
    Jacob Trouba 6’2 190lbs
    Andrew Ladd 6’3, 205lbs
    Zack Bogosian 6’3, 215lbs
    Blake Wheeler 6’5, 205lbs
    Dustin Byfuglien 6’5, 265lbs

    And that’s just a list of their top end guys. According to NHL.com 9 out their 14 forwards are 6’2 or larger and 8 out of their 10 defencemen are over 6’2 as well. They aren’t twigs either as majority of their players are in the 200-215lbs range. Heck, even both their goalies are are over 6’2, 200lbs. Just goes to show that it takes more then just size to win in the Western Conference.

    • Sorensenator

      You have made a good point here, although Olli Jokinen will not be a part of their future. Their core for the most part is still very young.

      Also they are all very good players, but no one near the elite level of a Taylor Hall.

    • Zarny

      What’s interesting is that despite the Oilers having 3 players far more skilled than anyone on the Jets roster (Hall, Nuge and Eberle) Winnipeg scored more goals and finished 17 pts higher in the standings.

      My question is why are you focusing on a team that finished 22nd overall? Is your goal to beat a non-playoff team lol?

      Of course it takes more than just size to win. You need skilled players with size. If you’re looking for examples go check out LA, Chicago, Boston etc.

      You know…teams that actually win the Stanley Cup. Last I heard that was actually the goal; not beating a team that finished 22nd overall lol.

      • Lyxdeslic

        I’m not exactly sure where you are coming from. My argument was that Winnipeg has a lot of size and some skill (Ladd, Kane, Byfuglien, Scheifle, Wheeler, Trouba etc) but still can’t seem to crack a playoff birth. Your argument is that Winnipeg is a better team then the Oilers despite having less skill and that I should focus on cup contenders, not competing with Winnipeg. I’m not sure where you brought the Oilers or cup contenders into this, I was simply making an observation that Winnipeg is a big team but an unsuccessful one. Stating that they could be used as an example of how size does not translate to winning. I am not arguing the value of size, as I think it is essential, rather that the Jets are awful despite filling the size void.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I’m glad Big Buff won’t come to Edmonton. Winnipeg thought so much of him, they moved him back to forward. Also why would not want to play in the Peg, he is from Minnesota.

    I’m ok with aquiring Buffy, but number 3, or Eberle should not be in the conversation. I’ll take Eckblad at 3 and growing pains over Big Buff and his growing pains and declining abilities.

    Phaneuf and Buffy and Coburn don’t make youna contender, they will just make you feel you got an outside chance at the playoffs. In the end you see your getting poor value for the overpriced ticket.

    Let’s get our number 2 dman or 2nd line center this year rather then some guy who can’t stay below 300 pounds.

    The only guy I want outta WPG is Kane.

  • Ryan14

    Strudwich had one of the media guys from Winnipeg on his show Friday night and he did not have too many nice things to say abut DB’s defensive game. The term turnover machine was brought up more the once. Combine that with his inconsistent effort and lack of off ice discipline with regards to diet and conditioning, and I think this is one of those players who are better off staying away from Edmonton.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^But some guy who writes a Jets blog says the horsey stat shows he’s good on defence. I guess the ‘peg media guy, along with Paul Maurice don’t know hockey like the advanced stat cultists do.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    I think Phaneuf is the lesser of two evils here. Dion seems like quite a dong, but Buff’s apparent attitude toward nutrition and fitness would never wash with Eakins. But then, Phaneuf carries that $7 million boat anchor next season.

    I don’t think I’d want either of them based on reputations, but both players are better than pretty much every defenseman in the Oilers organization.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I would much rather have Byufflin (possible spelling error, but I don’t really care) over the Coburn option. Having Dustin being able to play 2 positions that well would be a huge bonus as far as injuries go.

    Bring Bufflin in, and also Dustin Penner, draft the slow mo Germanian Draisaitl in the coming weeks. We’d have the very first molasses in January line in the NHL. Give the Jets Gagner and Nurse* The 7th overall Darnell Nurse certainly isn’t much of a prospect at all if he can’t crack this joke of a blueline over the past 12 months. Many have mentioned he’s even further away from making it this coming season as well. #blownpick

    All of our wildest dreams would come true! WE CAN’T LOSE.

    *Since many here want to do this whole trading of vastly over rated prospects for actual NHL players slippery slope.

    • Word to the Bird

      Okay I might be being hypocritical right now, but have you ever seen him play before? In what way has Nurse gotten worse? By saying “blown pick” are you suggesting that Nurse is destined to become a bust? Wait until he’s closer to the NHL before you start throwing around thoughts like that.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Out of it since November, and now they’re going to start doing things the proper way?

        With many holes still rampant throughout this line up, there’s nothing wrong with expediting him, just like all the other kids thrust into this team have been.

        Lets face it, without these premo picks the last 5 yrs, the Oilers aren’t even worth watching. Yet another season playing with inferior competition/kids is suppose to help him how?

        The kid did get cut by a team with an atrocious blue line that also finished 28th last season.

    • WeridAl

      A lot of top D prospects take time, look at Hamilton in Boston, or Larssen with the Devils. What is silly is fans and media giving up on them because they don’t develop as fast as they want. Nurse is not ready, but he bleeds skill. He needs to bulk up and work on his defensive game. You don’t throw him to the wolfs right away. Not a fan of his, but I can even see this, and willing to admit the Oilers need to keep him.

  • Zarny


    Fair enough. I don’t think anyone has ever argued size alone translates into winning. If that were the case Jerred Smithson would have been a good acquisition for the Oilers.

    I don’t think describing a team that had 84 pts and was only 7 pts out of a playoff spot as awful is all that accurate.

    I think you identified the Jets problem when you said they had some skill. Wheeler is a beaut and a player the Oilers could really use. In terms of high-end skill though Ladd, Little and Jokinen fall short. Kane and Scheifele have potential but 41 pt and 34 pt isn’t good enough.

    I think that shows you how fine the line is between winning and losing. 4 of the 28th place teams over the last 5 years have rebounded to make the playoffs. It takes the right mix of players. Some teams like the Jets have a some size and skill but lack real high-end talent. The Oilers are the opposite with some real high-end talent but no one with a combination of size and skill. You need all of it to compete.