The Winnipeg Jets are going to have a stockpile at defense when both Dustin Byfuglien and Zach Bogosian return to their lineup.
Byfuglien is expected to make his return to the lineup on Tuesday after missing the past five games. Bogosian, on the other hand, started skating with the team again last week and is expected to return sometime this month.
Outside of Byfuglien and Bogosian, the Jets have Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart, Ron Hainsey, Grant Clitsome, Paul Postma, and Zach Redmond—a total of eight defensemen. Obviously, only six are in the lineup each night. It’s convenient to have a seventh defenseman.
That leaves the eighth spot. Is there really a point to carrying eight defensemen nowadays?
If the Jets were looking to trade one of their defensemen, who would be the odd man out?
Let’s break down the Jets' defense.
Byfuglien, Enstrom and Bogosian make the top three and are obviously keepers. After those three is where it gets tricky.
Redmond has been outstanding. In my books, he remains in the lineup each night going forward. The same can almost be said for Postma and Clitsome. With that being said, Clitsome, Redmond and Postma have been outplaying Hainsey and Stuart in the early going—the two I’ve yet to mention but hadn’t forgotten about.
Hainsey seems to be the fan-favorite whipping boy. Stuart used to be the fan-favorite hitting-machine, but we haven’t seen that aspect of his game this season. If I had to keep one of the two, it’d be Stuart for the intensity he brings. That leaves Hainsey as the odd man out.
Hainsey makes $4.5 million on this, the final year of his contract. His contract is more tradable than ever since there’s only one year left on it. It’s almost guaranteed Hainsey will be a goner after this season regardless of what happens.
Whether shopping Hainsey or even Stuart is a possibility or not, I’m suggesting that it’s something that has to be considered so the up-and-comers remain in the lineup and continue to grow.
I’ve seen this situation too many times with this franchise. The young player is usually the one who has to sit because of the belief that a veteran gives the team a better chance at making the playoffs. I couldn’t disagree more with that belief, especially in this situation.
The Jets aren’t a playoff team. Making the playoffs would be a dream come true. Besides, someone like Hainsey wouldn’t make or break the Jets' chances of making the playoffs any more than Redmond would. Let the rookies continue to progress.
In the absence of both injured Jets defensemen, young players have stepped up mightily—especially Redmond, about whom I can’t stop raving. If Redmond doesn’t play the way he does when Byfuglien went out, this article wouldn’t exist.
It’ll be tough seeing guys like Redmond and Postma sit in the press box, especially with how good both of these youngsters have been playing. Unless a trade is made to free up space, two of eight of the Jets defensemen will be consistent scratches.
I’m afraid it’ll be the one I’m raving about.