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.


  • Jayz

    I’d love to get Buf, but it will cost Eberle. Are you willing to give that up? I might be, but the dangler fans will lose their minds.

    and here’s another question: why is giving up Perron so palatable, yet giving up Eberle a complete nonstarter? They tied in goals last year, and Perron is a lot feistier and more of a pain the side of the opposition. Is it because Perron is a whopping 2 years older? They’re essentially the same player, both later 1st rounders. If anything, Perron brings more; yet he’s trade bait, and Eberle is untouchable.

    so strange.

  • BlazingSaitls

    I concur with a lg dubi dubi. YES PLEASE

    Ive been throwing around Big Buffs name on my wish list for some time now. If this ever did happened I hope Eakins would let the big horse gallop and not worry about eating his damn veggies! lol

  • D

    Edmonton fans have suffered a long time under this rebuild. The idea of trading any of Yak, Eberle, etc. (players that took the Oilers years of suck to get) just to get the rights to a player like Byfuglien reminds me of the Nylander-Heatley-Vanek days.

    I know this sentiment will likely be unpopular on this blog, but what I really hope the Oilers do is stay put with their current roster, draft either Ekblad or one of the C’s available at #3, make limited adjustments on other areas of the roster, and call it a day.

    Then the good people at Eakins-Ramsay et. al. can sit the team down, and tell them to look around, and get used to each other. And that this is the roster that needs to grow up, start competing, and stop waiting for some outsider to come in and solve their problems.

    Need a stud D? Hey Marincin, Petry, Klefbom, Schultz – why don’t one of you step up and be that stud D the Oilers so desperately need? Or better yet, why not all of you?

    • bwar

      There is a lot of sensibility in your post and while I do mostly agree with your thinking. There needs to be a change in the mix so to speak to survive the Western Conference. I don’t believe that any of Hall/RNH/Eberle are in discussion and Yak(only because his trade value isn’t worth it at this time). But one of Klefbom or Marincin. One of Perron, 2014’s 1st, or 2015’s 1st. And of course Gagner would have to be considered to add some functional toughness to the lineup. Maybe not big Buff but perhaps someone like Simmonds or a big tough 1st Pair D man? These types of players have high value and require a high price to acquire. But I agree we are not trying to win the Stanley Cup in one season. That type of mindset usually keeps teams hovering in the middle of the league.

  • Just thinking about this a little bit, I wonder if (hypothetically) there isn’t a Perron-Byfuglien deal to be made. Winnipeg wants to use him as a forward, and Perron has to be a comparable player at that position. Add in that Perron’s about $1.5MM cheaper and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets thought hard about Perron+ if it were offered to them.

    • Dockstaff

      Gagner and swap 1st round picks
      Petry and swap 1st round picks

      Winnipeg could use Gags; either on Little’s wing or replace Jokinen at Centre and put Wheeler and/or Ladd on his wings. Winnipeg lacks a speedy, skilled forward (Kane only shows up 1/3 of the time).

    • a lg dubl dubl

      Im tired of the damn lottery pick, I really don’t care who gets traded, outside the top 3 kids, to get this team back to a winning record. I want to cheer for the Oilers in the playoffs not some other team just because I put 20 bucks down on them (and won).

      Aiming for “next years lottery pick” is more fools gold than Braydon Coburn. This team needs to win starting this season, not “after McDavid”.

      Trade ONE of this years or next years 1st rounder and ONE of Klefbom or Marincin to get a couple players that can help Hall Ebrele and RNH take the Oilers to the playoffs, or close to it NEXT YEAR, otherwise the top 3 will be asking for a trade.

      Sorry Im just tired of getting lottery picks yr after yr after yr after yr. #thankskevin

    • 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.

  • Jayz

    So you’re all nuts. Eberle is going nowhere, and Gagner has zero worth, it’s going to be Perron and klefbom, and I don’t even make that trade… Offer a really fair contract to Niskanin and stop chasing other teams headaches just because they bring “size”.
    Anyone care to elaborate why buff was thrown on the wing ? Someone who was chased off the blue line on a fringe playoff team hardly qualifies as the “best” Dman we would have if he was to be traded here… Just stop .. You are embarrassing yourself JW

  • 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

  • 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.

  • WeridAl

    Edmonton’s D sucks, so lets go out and trade for a D that cannot play D. Really makes a lot of sense. But, but he has a great shot from the point. Than you trade a ton for him, to only see him play 2yrs, because big Buf will run the 1st chance he gets. Than there is the fact Dustin Byfuglien has a weight problem. People are living in the past with this one, Dustin Byfuglien made a name for himself as a forward, but his D is severely lacking.

  • BlazingSaitls

    Could there be a huge 3 team (or more) trade going on? A trade where Oilers eat a huge contract from a team looking to dump salary. A trade with draft pick swapping, prospects, roster players, future considerations. Could this be the beginning of the Bold Move Era?

    Its going to take Bold Moves from MacT to get Big Buff. Ill defer to wiser members of Oilernation to throw names around but I think there could be fireworks at the draft and Im really looking forward to it.

    P.S. For the first time in my life I actually started watching soccer. #ThanksKevin

  • camdog

    What kool-aid has everybody been drinking this morning?

    Desperation seems to be in full bloom: “Buff, phaneuf, letang, cobourn…. Can we at least get one? Anyone…. Please get someone…” Wow!

    As for Buf: “Just remember other teams will be offering Jets the farm for him.” Really? His reputation isn’t that great. Winnipeg may be happy to get rid of him. Would Buf or Kane fit into the Oilers’ dressing room with the present crew? Doubtful. Their records indicate both are high maintenance.

    Let’s hope that MacT isn’t desperate. This organization has made some major blunders in acquiring players before and have paid a heavy price for all the mistakes.

    • J.R.

      Dude, you have to admit these are desperate times.

      A bit of an overpay for a good player is likely what we’ll see here, otherwise it’ll be a repeat of the last two years at the draft when no deals got done.

      Nobody wants to bring in a problem guy but what do you do when you need a rare stud d-man and you only have a shot at a couple of guys? The Oilers just need a calculated risk to not bite them in the ass for once.

  • 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?