Why the Colorado Avalanche Should Court Dustin Byfuglien


Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is currently sitting through a four-game suspension for a nasty hit on New York Rangers foward JT Miller. That is not what we’re talking about here. What we’re talking about is what kind of play Byfuglien could bring to the table of the Colorado Avalanche courted him.

Spoiler alert — it’s a lot.

Versatile Play

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Byfuglien is a natural defenseman, but he’s played forward for the Jets. I don’t mean he’s played forward the way Avalanche defenseman Nick Holden has dabbled in the position. I mean when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks, they had him on first and second forward lines. He didn’t put up huge numbers for a forward, but he did help the team to the Stanley Cup in 2010.

And then there’s his defensive play.

Right now Byfuglien is a plus-7. According to Sporting Charts, he’s recorded 202 hits this season, or 7.9 per 60 minutes of play. I don’t think I need to add those were likely bone-crushing hits. Byfuglien also has 58 blocked shots this season.

Intimidation Factor

Do I have to do more than cite Bygfuglien’s massive size? He’s 6-foot-5, 265 pounds. If you’d like, I can illustrate a clean hit from Byfuglien:

Sorry, Tyson Barrie. (He was ok, luckily.)

On the flip side, though, how awesome would it be to have the behemoth looking after Barrie rather than smashing him? Or stopping opponents from riding Matt Duchene? Or protecting Nathan MacKinnon?

Despite his size, Byfuglien is pretty agile on skates. Needless to say, his shot is heavy like lead.


Byfuglien doesn’t put up big numbers for a forward, which may be part of the reason Chicago traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers (who then became the Winnipeg Jets).

However, as a defenseman, he puts up decent numbers. Since joining the current franchise, he’s recorded two 20-goal seasons and three 50-point seasons. The big outlier for his points production was the lockout-shortened season, when he still put up 28 points. This season he has 18 goals and 27 assists.

In other words, Tyson Barrie might have to settle for being one of the Avalanche’s 50-point defensemen on the team.

Down Side

Byfuglien occasionally lacks consistency, which is already an issue for the Colorado Avalanche. Then, there’s the whole issue of his dirty play. He’s not a repeat offender, but that hit on Miller was bad. Real bad — he shouldn’t have indulged in such bad behavior.

I don’t know if this is good or bad, but he did throw Evander Kane’s jumpsuit into the shower as a lesson of how to dress for team meetings.


Imagine him on a defensive pairing with Erik Johnson. Imagine Condor with a big, speedy defensive partner who’s just as intimidating as he is. Imagine the sight of Erik Johnson powering down the right side and Dustin Byfuglien down the left.

Well, hopefully the left, because that’s a snag — Big Buff is a right hand shot. So’s EJ. That’s not the best pairing situation, but…

Seriously, how scary would it be to have to face down Johnson on one side and Byfuglien on the other? That’s just the sort of size and speed head coach Patrick Roy has talked about acquiring.

Plus, we could finally ask him why something that’s spelled “Byfuglien” is pronounced “Buckland.” He’d have to choose a different number, though — obviously #33 won’t work here in Colorado.

Next: The Offensive Tyson Barrie

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