The Curious Case of Tobias Enstrom

Posted by Michael Remis in Columns,Radio,Winnipeg Jets on April 3, 2012 — No Comments

The Illegal Curve Hockey Show airs Saturday’s from 12pm to 3pm on TSN Radio 1290. The following article is based on discussions that occurred on Saturday’s most recent episode. To listen to the episode, download it directly from IllegalCurve.com or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

With the regular season coming to a close, the focus of Jets fans now moves from the playoff race, to the off-season. Important dates to note are June 22-23, where the NHL Draft will take place in Pittsburgh, and July 1st which is UFA signing day.

On Saturday’s Illegal Curve Hockey Show, Drew, Richard and Ezra speculated on what the Jets offseason plans may be.

One player the discussion centered around was defenseman Tobias Enstrom. Fans of the show may remember back on January 28th, when the boys were assessing each player’s trade value, a similar discussion took place.

Tobias Enstrom is an interesting case. The offensive defenseman is coming off of a season where he spent most of the season playing alongside Dustin Byfuglien scoring five goals and recording 24 assists for 29 points (As of April 2nd). He also missed twenty games after taking a hit from Jack Skille which broke his collar bone.

Next season he will be paid $4.5 million at a cap hit of $3.75 million, the final year of a four year contract. He will become a UFA after next season, when he will be 28 years old (turning 29 in November of 2013). It is reasonable to assume that Enstrom is what he is, meaning his skills won’t improve dramatically.

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and his management team must now assess whether or not Enstrom is in the Jets’ long term plans. It may cost close to $5 million per year to re-sign him. Additionally, the Jets have shown organizational depth at defense and a need to upgrade at forward.

Host Drew Mindell stated on Saturday’s show:

“If you’re not going to re-sign Enstrom after next season, then the draft is the place to deal him, at the latest. The longer you hold on to him, the less you get back for him.”

Ezra Ginsburg assessed the skills of the Jets number two defenseman:

“A problem that has been evident is he has had a lot of problems with bigger forwards where defensively he struggles. As a defensive defenseman, he’s weak. He’s very good on the power play, and a terrific skater, but when you look at the Jets moving forward, you already have Byfuglien ($5.2 million cap hit) and Bogosian (RFA after next season) under contract.”

Richard Pollock said that factors that will come into play will be if they believe Paul Postma is ready to take on some power play minutes, and how good management thinks Enstrom is at even strength.

At the end of next season, Ron Hainsey’s $4.5 million cap hit will also come off the books, so money should be available to re-sign Enstrom.

It is difficult to project what GM Cheveldayoff will do this offseason, to date he has made several low risk moves signing Tanner Glass, Kyle Wellwood and trading for Eric Fehr.

Once the season ends, Enstrom will be their most tradeable asset, the Jets will not be favourites for a Stanley Cup next season. This off-season will be telling with respect to the organizational philosophy moving forward and how they intend on allotting their salary cap dollars.

Listen to the Illegal Curve Hockey Show, Saturdays from 12pm-3pm on TSN Radio 1290.