The Dustin Byfuglien Dilemma

April 20th, 2019 was the last time Dustin Byfuglien played in an NHL game for the Winnipeg Jets; as their season ended against the eventual Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. He took a leave of absence from the Jets on September 13th, and its been silent since then, as he appeared to be taking the entire season off. On February 3rd, Byfuglien and the Jets agreed to work towards a contract termination, ending his time with the team. However, this season, the Winnipeg Jets are 36-28-6, good for 78 points in 70 games, including a 6-3-1 record in their last 10. They are on a three-game win streak and currently hold the 1st wildcard spot in a crowded Western Conference. It’s almost as if the Jets are better without Byfuglien, and we’ve done some research to determine how serviceable he has actually been to his teams over a 12-year span.

 

AB Scores and Team Success

Year AB Score Team Rank Team Season Outcome
07-08 -2.26 22/28 No Playoffs (Chicago)
08-09 +1.66 12/21 Lost in Conference Finals 4-1 to Detroit (Chicago)
09-10 -2.43 22/23 Stanley Cup Champions (Chicago)
10-11 -2.48 14/23 No Playoffs (Atlanta/WPG)
11-12 -6.99 25/25 No Playoffs (Winnipeg)
12-13 -6.47 25/25 No Playoffs (Winnipeg)
13-14 -7.54 25/25 No Playoffs (Winnipeg)
14-15 -3.70 21/27 Swept in Quarterfinals 4-0 by Anaheim (Winnipeg)
15-16 -5.17 20/23 No Playoffs (Winnipeg)
16-17 -2.75 17/25 No Playoffs (Winnipeg)
17-18 -3.88 25/25 Lost in Conference Finals 4-1 to Vegas (Winnipeg)
18-19 -5.67 24/25 Lost in Quarterfinals 4-2 to St. Louis (Winnipeg)

 

In 12 season, Dustin Byfuglien only registered one positive AB season, had the worst AB score on his team four times, and the 2nd worst score twice; meaning that for half of his career, Big Buff was among the bottom two players on his team in AB. In fact, this table even shows that Byfuglien’s scores were never even in the upper half of the scores on the team in all 12 seasons. This play didn’t translate to team success extremely well as you can see by this table, as in the majority of the seasons, Byfuglien’s teams failed to qualify for the playoffs at all.

 

Net Penalties Per Game and Team Rank

Year Net Penalty Number Team Rank
07-08 -0.2 17/28 Chicago
08-09 0 12/21 Chicago
09-10 -0.7 21/23 Chicago
10-11 -0.4 19/23 Winnipeg
11-12 -0.8 25/25 Winnipeg
12-13 -0.9 25/25 Winnipeg
13-14 -0.6 21/25 Winnipeg
14-15 -0.9 23/27 Winnipeg
15-16 -0.8 22/23 Winnipeg
16-17 -0.68 18/25 Winnipeg
17-18 -1.33 25/25 Winnipeg
18-19 -1.18 25/25 Winnipeg

Similar to the other table, you can see here that Byfuglien had the worst net penalty number on his team for ¼ of his career (4 years), and was in the bottom three scores for another two seasons, making it another six seasons of being among the worst players on the team in a metric. Again, his scores weren’t even in the upper half for all 12 seasons in this metric as well.

 

Turnover +/- (Takeaways-Giveaways)

Year Turnover +/- Number Team Rank
07-08 +2 13/28 Chicago
08-09 +8 8/21 Chicago
09-10 +21 3/23 Chicago
10-11 +26 3/23 Winnipeg
11-12 -6 16/25 Winnipeg
12-13 -24 25/25 Winnipeg
13-14 -4 13/25 Winnipeg
14-15 -10 18/27 Winnipeg
15-16 -19 20/23 Winnipeg
16-17 -20 24/25 Winnipeg
17-18 -45 25/25 Winnipeg
18-19 -18 19/25 Winnipeg

Byfuglien did a bit better in this metric than the others, but as the table shows, his scores gradually increased for his first few seasons in the league, then got worse and failed to spike again. He still was in the bottom three team-wise for four seasons, meaning its another metric he struggled with for ¼ of his career.

 

+/-

Year Turnover +/- Number Team Rank
07-08 -7 24/28 Chicago
08-09 +7 9/21 Chicago
09-10 -7 23/23 Chicago
10-11 -2 7/23 Winnipeg
11-12 -8 20/25 Winnipeg
12-13 -1 10/25 Winnipeg
13-14 -20 25/25 Winnipeg
14-15 +5 10/27 Winnipeg
15-16 +4 7/23 Winnipeg
16-17 +10 2/25 Winnipeg
17-18 +15 4/25 Winnipeg
18-19 +4 13/25 Winnipeg

This was Byfuglien’s best statistic that we analyzed, as he finished in the top half of his team in 7/12 seasons, including two top-five finishes.

 

Interestingly enough, if Byfuglien was playing for the Jets today, he would have the worst career AB score of the entire defense group, as the order would be Josh Morrissey (-0.08), Tucker Poolman (-1.12), Nathan Beaulieu (-1.30), Dylan DeMelo (-1.39), Neal Pionk (-3.31), Dmitry Kulikov (-3.85), and then Byfuglien at -3.97. Also, keep in mind that Byfuglien’s estimated career earnings according to Cap Friendly is $66,330,678 and that he is 34 years old. It will be interesting to see if any team is willing to pay Byfuglien a large sum of money with the projected cap increase occurring this summer, and we will be monitoring the situation. Much more to come.

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