The season has been laid to rest.
Fans have completed their lamenting of the Anaheim Ducks sweeping the Winnipeg Jets. The healing process has begun.
But, before full closure can be completed, an autopsy of the Jets season must be initiated.
We turn our evidence-based breakdown of the Jets best left-shot defender, Tobias Enstrom.
Numbers include all situations including non 5v5 TOI.
Toby Enstrom finished the season with the second lowest point total of his career, despite also having the Jets second highest point total. The dip in part comes from a reduction in defensive partner quality, moving from Dustin Byfuglien to Zach Bogosian and Tyler Myers, and also from moving to the second power play unit, with Mathieu Perreault manning the primary unit.
Graph courtesy of WAR-on-Ice.
Rankings are out of the Jets 11 defenders with 50+ 5v5 minutes, except special team minutes are 4 players for power play and 7 players for penalty kill.
Enstrom ate a lot of minutes for the Jets. He mostly played with the Jets top lines and against the other team’s top lines. He was not relatively deployed in the defensive zone or the offensive zone more than the other.
Enstrom played top pairing minutes for the Jets and finished with results better than the average top pairing defender.
Visual courtesy of Micah McCurdy.
Enstrom had up and down results when paired with Zach Bogosian, his most common partner. He also played with Tyler Myers for a good portion of the season, who he also had up and down results with, but with relatively more “ups” than with Bogosian.
At first glance, this may seem confusing to some. Enstrom is highly respected defender, viewed as underrated by those who are fans of underlying metrics, and is often named the Jets best left hand defender.
The results though are average at best, with the exception of Goals Above Replacement.
Why is that? When we look at With and Without Yous (WOWYs) we begin to see why. Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Zach Bogosian, Paul Postma, and Tyler Myers have been the primary right handed shot defenders for the Winnipeg Jets and Atlanta Thrashers over the past five seasons. All of them, have enjoyed their best results with Toby Enstrom.
The defender on the right side always does best with Toby; how well Toby does though varies depending on who is on the right side.
Another way to look at this is that Enstrom spent most of his minutes this season with Bogosian or Myers. They each finished 8th -2.01 and 11th with -3.62 for the Jets relative Fenwick (unblocked shot attempt differential when on-ice versus on the bench), yet Enstrom –playing mostly with those two– barely had a negative result with -0.36.
Enstrom had the Jets second best impact on goal differentials by Goals Above Replacement. He finished the season with strong numbers here due to two factors. He had an impact in improving the Jets shot location, but also had impact on Jets shot volume against. It’s been noted that most defenders, elite offensive exceptions like Byfuglien and Erik Karlsson aside, predominately impact the game in shot volume against.
Despite being a “small, undersized, puck-moving, offensive” defender, Enstrom’s has been the Jets best shot volume repressor. While many view him as an offense-only defender, Enstrom’s greatest asset is in his defensive impact.
The Jets have a whole bunch of top tier defenders on the right side. They either are top-tier calibre like Byfuglien or Trouba, decent supportive players like Bogosian or Myers, or underrated depth defender like Postma.
The left side though is a lot more sparse. The only safe bet for excellent results is Toby Enstrom. After that the defenders primarily depend on their partner to stay in the “black” for outscoring their opponent. There is some promise in the horizon though that one day the Jets can have two top-tier defenders on the left-side, if Josh Morrissey reaches there before Enstrom begins to regress with age.