Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man expert all season long.
During his 7-year NHL career, Dustin Byfuglien has pretty much done it all. He has played all over the ice, skating as both a forward and a defenseman, and those skills helped the Chicago Blackhawks hoist a Stanley Cup back in 2010. After that championship, Byfuglien was shipped to the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, who made him primarily a defenseman. "Big Buff" thrived in that role and went on to post 53-points (20G-33A), 347 shots on goal and a very manageable minus-2.
The career year set expectations high for the Minnesota native, but he had some trouble meeting them in October. Byfuglien was maligned by some who questioned his conditioning. The thinking was that he had bulked up a little too much during the off-season and it was hurting his ability to play end-to-end. He seemed to be struggling when it came to getting back to the defensive zone after a rush and it resulted in the coaching staff shortening his shifts for a period of time, which in turn limited his scoring opportunities.
Whatever the reason for his early-season struggles, it hurt the Jets and it hurt fantasy owners who spent an early round pick on the player that we had 8th overall in our pre-season rankings. Byfuglien went on to register a minus-5 and just 4 points (1G-3A) in 11 October games, a decent total for your fourth or fifth defenseman, but not for the guy who was likely your number one.