In many ways, this has been a bounce-back year for Tyler Myers. In other ways, his injury-plagued season of a year ago is still weighing him down.
The trade that brought Myers to Winnipeg (it seems inappropriate now to call it the Evander Kane trade) feels like a long time ago, even though it’s been just three years. Myers is almost certainly not going to be the biggest piece for the Jets out of it long-term.
For the moment, however, Myers remains an important part of the Jets blue line, and that has led to some huge moments this year for the towering defender, and some he’d no doubt like back. His game seesaws wildly back and forth between the two.
Myers has 34 points in all 65 games this year, both of which are significant. Myers missed all but 11 games last year, so for him to played every contest is huge. His point totals are his highest since 2011, and he’s on pace to hit 40 points for just the second time in his career.
Last 4 games:
Dustin Byfuglien: 1 goal, 6 assists
Tyler Myers: 1 goal, 6 assists
— Mike McIntyre (@mikemcintyrewpg) February 21, 2018
Ever since his arrival in Winnipeg Myers has been good at getting his shot through traffic. It’s one of his offensive gifts and it’s part of why he leads the Jets defense in goals with six.
Examining Myers CF% rel, this year is slightly below average, but far and away better than his first year in a Jets uniform. His strong numbers last year are part of too small a sample size, and the year before wasn’t that far off his current pace.
Not everything has been hunky dory, however. Myers seems to be caught in bad situations of his own making almost every game, and his turnovers come at awkward moments. His game has been all peaks and valleys this year.
The up-and-down nature of Myers’ game is more befitting a young defenseman than the veteran he’s become. Some have theorized he may be playing hurt or dealing with lingering after-effects of last season’s disastrous run of ailments.
Here’s Tyler Myers, as I watched him a lot in Buffalo and all of #NHLJets.
Great offensively winning Calder in Buffalo. Struggled in d-zone but he was young.
After that, nothing changed in D, and offence stayed the same at best.
He is what he is, a 5/6 D. Don’t expect more.
— Scott Campbell (@NHL_Campbell) March 3, 2018
If Campbell is right and Myers is a 5/6 defenseman, then he’s an excellent 5/6 defenseman who produces like one far further up the lineup. He’s also paid like one far further up the lineup for this year and next.
Myers Presents Dilemma
Myers leaves the Jets in a tough spot. He’s not perfect by any means, but his offense would be hard to replace. And with the Jets now ready to contend, they would want to replace him right away.
Nobody in the Jets system is ready to step into Myers role right now. One day his spot will likely belong to Tucker Poolman but how long will it be until Poolman is ready to truly replace Myers contributions?
— Hockey Reference (@hockey_ref) February 19, 2018
Meanwhile, Sami Niku is likely not much longer for the Manitoba Moose as he’ll be up with the Jets before long. However, his spot is on the left-hand side and is likely in for one of Chiarot or Enstrom when their contracts are up. No one else in the Jets system is anywhere near ready for the minutes Myers eats up.
I wouldn’t count on any free agent help anytime soon either. Jacob Trouba and Patrik Laine will both need huge extensions and Adam Lowry and Joel Armia are in line for smaller ones. Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic need new contracts before too long as well.
For right now, the Jets best option with Myers is to play him as the 5/6 defenseman Scott Campbell describes him as. Of course, they can’t do that until Jacob Trouba gets back, and what a breath of fresh air that will be.
Unfortunately, until he and Enstrom return, the Jets are running quite a few 5/6 defenseman. Their depth on D has been put to the test of late and found at least somewhat wanting.
You could see in the Jets draft strategy last year that they saw this coming as they nabbed Dylan Samberg with their second-round pick. It’s also part of the reason they traded up to acquire Logan Stanley the year before.
Whatever your views on the Jets organizational defensive depth, for now, it’s clear the Jets have little choice but to lean more heavily on Myers than usual. If he can elevate his defensive game and play with more confidence in his own zone, while at the same time maintaining the offense, the Jets can continue to weather the storm.
If Myers wants a new contract from the Jets in two seasons’ time, he’ll need to do that. In the short term, they need him to be at his best to continue their quest for their first division title in Winnipeg.