Tobias Enstrom has been a steadfast defenseman for the Atlanta Thrashers / Winnipeg Jets organization since he was drafted in the 8th round of the 2003 NHL Draft, but it looks like his time with the team has come to an end as he possibly eyes a return back to his native country of Sweden
Let’s first start off with the item that broke Sunday morning on Elliotte Friedman’s weekly “31 Thoughts” article, where he simple flat out states that Enstrom’s time in Winnipeg is done and that the defenseman who has spent the last 11 seasons with the Thrashers/Jets has told the club that he is not returning.
After his Game 5 scratch versus Nashville, Tobias Enstrom let Winnipeg know he won’t be returning. The Jets/Thrashers are the only franchise he’s known during his NHL career, but it’s time for a change.
Ah yes, the now infamous game five scratch where he was listed as a “coach’s decision” but who may or may not have been playing hurt with broken ribs – the team denied this was a thing – which did limit his effectiveness on the ice, especially against a ferocious fore-checking team such as the Vegas Golden Knights. (We can leave the debate on wither a Dmitri Kulikov who hadn’t played since March was a better option to play in an elimination playoff game over a less than 100% Enstrom for another day)
Word had gotten out from the usually Tupperware tight Jets that the scratch caused some bad feelings with Toby and those rumors appeared to have some validity a few days later when he left the club before the team had their end of season locker room clean-out day and final talk with the media.
It’s a rather disappointing end to a fine career with the Jets franchise, but one that also looks like needs to happen. Enstrom has maybe just gone through his most frustrating season of pro hockey where he was plagued by multiple injuries including a two month stint on the IR that had him out for the calendar end of 2017 and then a second injury where the Jets shut him down at the end of the regular season with the hopes that he’d be healthy for round one, game one which didn’t turn out that way either. In all, the injuries limited him to just 43 games this season with one goal and six points total.
So where could Enstrom head? Well he will no doubt test the free agent market once the “discussion period” for unrestricted free agents opens up on June 27 – the period in time where UFAs can talk to any NHL clubs about deals to be made once NHL Free Agency officially opens up on July 1. Coming off such a rough season, it’s hard to say what kind of interest the 33 year old veteran will garner. Enstrom has never been about adding offense to a blue-line attack but he is a strong, steady defender in his own end of the ice and could make for a good second or third pairing defenseman.
If the NHL doesn’t present any appealing offers or opportunities, there is also a chance that Enstrom could be heading back home to Sweeden to play for MODO in Sweden’s second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan league. There has been word that Enstrom and his agent Kalle Boden have met with Modo Hockey about a possible return, but as Boden has told Swedish news sites, talk of a return could be premature for now as his agent feels there is still some worthwhile interest from other NHL teams.
The one thing we seem to all know for sure at this point, is that Toby Enstrom will not be suiting up for the Jets this fall.
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