Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Forgotten Star

Only 3 defenceman have out-scored Winnipeg's Tobias Enstrom over the last two years

On the day the Winnipeg Jets opened training camp for the first time in 15 years, one storyline continued to dominate local headlines.

That would be Dustin Byfuglien, who, thanks to his ongoing legal matters as well as his Prince Fielder-like figure, has been heavily (couldn't resist) focused on.

Before Big Buff started getting the Kate & Will treatment from the Winnipeg media, the spotlight had mostly been occupied by Andrew Ladd. He was the first Jet to touch down in the 'Peg after the team officially relocated, and his new five year contract, along with his recent stats, Stanley Cup pedigree, and Western Canadian upbringing gave fans reason to feel comfortable with their instant attachment to the new captain.

The tragic suicide of Rick Rypien was obviously big news as well, while the hometown heroes (Fehr, Gregoire, Meech), and potential young stars (Kane, Little, Pavelec, Burmistrov and Scheifele) have each received their fair-share of print.

Lost amongst all those storylines is that of a 27 year-old Swede who just might be the NHL's most underrated player.

Tobias Enstrom was drafted eight rounds into the 2003 Entry Draft (239th overall), and despite putting up solid numbers and progressing in each of his four NHL seasons (he was an All-Star in 2010-11), hasn't stopped being overlooked by the hockey community.

When you think about Duncan Keith, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Dan Boyle you instantly recognize them as elite NHL defencemen who provide excellent offensive output and quarterback their teams' powerplays.

What most people don't realize is they are also the only three d-men to register more points (Keith - 114, Lidstrom - 111, Boyle - 108) over the last two years than Enstrom (101).

What Enstrom lacks in stature (he is listed at 5'10 and 175) he makes up for with skill and savvy, and after finishing in a tie for fourth amongst defencemen with 28 powerplay points last season, Jet fans and the entire hockey community won't be overlooking him much longer.