Ramsay says Byfuglien will play defense

Dustin Byfuglien scored 28 goals last season during the regular and post seasons.

Dustin Byfuglien scored 28 goals last season during the regular and post seasons.

Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley told me two weeks ago that he would like to see Dustin Byfuglien move back to defense, his original position. In doing so, he left one caveat. The final decision would be up to new coach Craig Ramsay.

That decision has been made.

Ramsay said Friday that Byfuglien will come to training camp as a defenseman.

“Dustin Byfuglien will have a chance to play defense,” Ramsay said. “I’ve been told he is a defenseman, he was a defenseman. That was his position and he likes it. He wants to be there. I will give him every opportunity to show us he can play defense. If he can do that, wonderful. That’s great. I look at our defense and I think it can be our strength, a strong point. If Buff can go in and be big and strong on defense, that would be awesome. If it doesn’t work, he’ll go up front. There is no reason we wouldn’t give him every good, solid chance to play the position and find out if he can. That would really solidify us on the back end.”

As a forward, Byfuglien scored 17 regular-season  goals for Chicago last season. He scored 11 goals in 22 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup. Byfuglien was traded to Atlanta in the off-season – one of four players from the championship team to join the Thrashers.

Such a move would seemingly set the top six defensemen of Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya, Brent Sopel and Byfuglien. That would mean players such as Boris Valabik, Freddy Meyer, Arturs Kulda, Jaime Sifers and Andrey Zubarev are in competition for another spot when training camp begins next week. Ramsay said he doesn’t intend to carry players on the roster that aren’t going to play on a regular basis.

“I think he’s more of a defenseman,” Ramsay continued about Byfuglien, who has not reported early for voluntary workouts after the  Stanley Cup winning run. “We already have people we think can play [defense]. That just makes it a little more difficult picking your team on the blue line. Sopel can play. Hainsey can play. Enstrom, Bogosian, Oduya, those guys I know. They can all play. Some of the young kids, just watching them fiddling around [in voluntary workouts], get around the ice very well which is what we want to accomplish from our blue line. We have some pieces already. Rick has created some depth in this organization that we should be in pretty good shape on the blue line. Wouldn’t it be great if you looked at your team and said we are good on the blue line, people can’t pick on us. Get the puck out of your end and start getting up ice.

“We are solid. We are going to be good on the blue line. That’s a huge advantage.”

Ramsay and Dudley both think that Byfuglien is still capable of scoring as a defenseman.

“He can score 15 goals as a defenseman,” Dudley said in August. “He’s got one of the hardest shots in the game.”

The Thrashers finished last season 25th in the NHL in goal-against per game with a 3.05 average. If the Thrashers are to turn around a franchise that has missed the playoffs the past three seasons and made it just once in its 10-year history, it will start on defense, Ramsay said. Ramsay has stated, and did again Friday, that he intends to play a very up-temp game with the defense joining the rush as much as possible.

“We’ve got size, we’ve got quickness,” he added. “I think we can be really good on defense. That’s a pressure position and a huge part of what’s going to turn this team around and make it go forward is the fact that we are going to be able to get the puck, move it up the ice. They are going to join rushes and we are going to get some offense from the blue line. I like the look of it, but you have to get into playing games before you really see how these things work.”

And it will begin with training camp in just a week.

48 comments Add your comment

GaVaHokie

September 10th, 2010
2:15 pm

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
2:17 pm

OK….did you ask him if Buf would still be used to clog up the crease on the PP even IF he ends up playing on the blueline?

We need his presence on the man-advantage, and not from the point. We’ve got Bogo, Toby, Ronsey and even Oduya for that. Buff has 16 PPG in his 3 years as a starter. We need 10-15 more from him this year.

maybe

September 10th, 2010
2:17 pm

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2010
2:17 pm

By the way, Ramsay and I spoke about many things on the upcoming season in my interview. Expect some more blogs in the upcoming days leading to camp.

lemon drop the gloves

September 10th, 2010
2:17 pm

huge mistake! hawks went through this already over a 3-year period. way to ignore that data. i love buff, but he’s good for an emergency on d – that’s about it. what a waste when he can dominate in the offensive end.

maybe

September 10th, 2010
2:17 pm

johnny

September 10th, 2010
2:18 pm

Any news on Bergfors?

johnny

September 10th, 2010
2:19 pm

Are we any closer to Bergfors?

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2010
2:20 pm

Smoothie: Ramsay wants to see how things work in camp and the preseason before he makes final decisions but I would expect to see Byfuglien on the PP somewhere.

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2010
2:21 pm

johnny: Nothing new to report on Bergfors.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
2:33 pm

Thanks Chris, figured you had a much lengthier convo with him than just one blog’s worth…gotta keep the bloggers wanting more!

Viking – where art thou esteemed Norseman? Anything to report from the Swedish press? Has Afonbladet or anyone else attempted to contact Bergfors for a little insight?

Stat Man

September 10th, 2010
2:41 pm

Hopefully some of his offensive defensive play will rub off on Enstrom and he (Tody) won’t be afraid to take a shot more often. That was one frustrating dude last year – almost refused to take a damn shot!

sph9

September 10th, 2010
2:42 pm

Buff – Back to D, Dustin will be happy with this move, as he has spoken recently, that D is his preferred position. But, and here is the but, his presence upfront can not be denied. There were brief periods last year (regular season) when he dominated, and of course we all saw what he did in the playoffs, even when only checking in to play for 3 of the 4 series. The Nashville series he was non-existent, and then showed up for the rest of the play-offs. His on ice position skills had developed nicely: physical presence in front of the net, his ability to maintain crease position, move away from the net when needed to allow (Kane, Tows) the chance to have space to make a play was a real factor in his and his teams success last year. It’s a shame really that ATL is willing to stop his progression as a power forward.
On Defense I’ve watched Dustin from game 1 of his NHL career, I saw his first goal( a rocket from the point) and his first career hat-trick (as a D) against PHX, he has excellent puck skills and see’s the ice very well, he’ll need to work on his positioning on D to learn to be more efficient with his Defensive play. I’m a little concerned considering the players in the SE division that he’ll be up against on a nightly basis, OVIE, Stamkos, Lecavalier, Stall, will he be able to maintain the physical presence on D every night to stop these players. We’ll soon find out.
Really the key to Dustin is what is going on in his head. When he is motivated, when he plays at 100%, he is unstoppable. Ramsay more then anything else will need to work on what’s going on in between the ears with Buff, If Ramsay can get Buff to the point were he is consistently giving an all out effort it wont matter what position he is playing.

p.s. It’ll be fun watching all those former Hawks down in ATL this year.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
2:53 pm

“The Nashville series he was non-existent, and then showed up for the rest of the play-offs”

And I believe he was pressed into emergency blueline service for that series against Smashville. Perhaps why they struggled to find time and space and score goals against a stingy Preds team.

Thanks for the contribution sph9…don’t be a stranger!

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
3:01 pm

This old news! I emailed you gentlemen about this days ago. Not surprisingly, I got no response…

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2010
3:08 pm

Sage: Perhaps it’s old news because you read my blog from two weeks ago. This is confirmation from the coach. On the e-mail front, perhaps you should have someone help you send one because I have received nothing from you. I’m always available.I would certainly answer you. My e-mail address is cvivlamore@ajc.com. Please … try again.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
3:24 pm

Chris – is that not the parody Sage? The one who’s always griping about e-mails because apparently Sage used to e-mail D-Wad incessantly with his thoughts, ideas, complaints only to get nothing in return? Check with Billy T, he can fill you in if you don’t know the saga of Sage.

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2010
3:35 pm

Smoothie: You are probably right. I apologize.

Smoothie

September 10th, 2010
3:40 pm

No need to apologize, just tryin’ to help a brotha out!

Thanks again for your hard work…perhaps I’ll see you up at the DIF for the Wed scrimmage…I plan to take a loooonnng lunch.

Saga Of BlueCheese

September 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

I told you so….waaaaaaahhhhhhh.waaaaaahhhhhh.bleat,bleat

rob

September 10th, 2010
4:07 pm

He WANTS to play D?!?! The entire league watched and knows what he is capable of, where he should want to be now. Parked in front of the net wreaking havoc to such an extent that others have time and space to create because you can’t ignore him standing in front of the goalie. I hope this isn’t him not being happy to be a Thrasher. Would be nice to actually, I don’t know, have him here acting interested maybe? Hope he comes to play and not be a distraction.

Wizard of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
4:14 pm

lol @ Sage imposters….

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
4:17 pm

To our esteemed beat writer: That was an imposter Sage…Try again (and this time check the email or IP address)….

Yours,

Sage of Bluesland

(Did you not note the imprecise and clodding grammar? That’s the first warning sign when determining who the ‘real’ Sage is…By the way, can you identify who these imposters are? I believe they are some of very own here who post under more recognized names–but that’s just my theory…)

Flagstaff

September 10th, 2010
4:19 pm

I am beginning to believe that there is no one SOB… just a network of posters who work together to make up his identity…

Darkhorse

September 10th, 2010
4:19 pm

We need a power forward much, much worse than a guy who is a 3-4 at best on D. We have a glut of those types now. If he were a true #1-2 dman, great, don’t see it though. Give him a chance at camp fine, but why are they so hell bent on doing this unless a deal is in the works w/a dman or two going for a nice forward? No, that would make too much sense…

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
4:20 pm

Oh, and on the subject of Byfuglien playing defense, I’m OK with it…until further notice…

(The GM and the coach desire it, so I’m willing to trust their judgment in the short run)

Thrashy Thrashy

September 10th, 2010
4:56 pm

If the player desires it and is capable of thriving at it, sure, why not?

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
5:10 pm

Pay attention to me.

Please?

kracker

September 10th, 2010
5:28 pm

I pay little attention to the original Sage. Or the imposters.

Rhythmpenguin

September 10th, 2010
5:37 pm

Someone must be pretending to be Sage. He said, “Oh, and on the subject of Byfuglien playing defense, I’m OK with it…until further notice…” which is not a normal Sage comment; there’s nothing negative! Plus he didn’t bash Waddell! =P

Nate

September 10th, 2010
5:38 pm

Awesome. Can’t wait for another long season filled with bogus coaching moves. Just…awesome. What a waste of a trade.

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
6:32 pm

I need a hug and an ice cold O’Doul’s, and pronto!!

And, uh…Waddell sucks! See? I’m legit!!!!

Chris Vivlamore

September 10th, 2010
7:40 pm

Looks like I learned my lesson about getting snippy. It won’t happen again … well, for awhile any way. Sorry.

kracker

September 10th, 2010
7:45 pm

Geeee just what we need….

mirtle RT @TheHockeyNews: THN.com has learned the NHL has contacted non-league officials about being replacement officials – http://t.co/T7PFqCx

kracker

September 10th, 2010
7:53 pm

I predict Bergfors gets signed by next weekend. His agent has strung it out long enough. What does your gut say, Chris?….if it is saying anything.

Sage of Bluesland

September 10th, 2010
8:50 pm

No problem, Vivs. I’m sure had I truly sent that email, you would have responded.

Don Waddell on the other hand … well, he’s just not the class act you are, as it were.

icy nards

September 10th, 2010
8:52 pm

Actually, the imprecise and clodding grammar convinced me it was the real Sage.

NHL Ready

September 10th, 2010
10:12 pm

Sph9 is right about Buff. He can get pretty lazy out there and when he feels like playing then watch out. I hope the Coach shuts down that kind of attitude real quick. Maybe I am the only one but I never really thought that Enstrom is a good D-man. To small to take the body on a big forward, will not shoot makes a lot of mistakes in positioning. I don’t see it we have better young talent then Toby. He was a Anderson special child played a lot of minutes has a few records big deal if some one logged in as many minutes as Toby they too would have some points. I do think he plays a good PK hopefully he can prove me wrong about how I feel.

JLH

September 11th, 2010
9:00 am

Totally goofy! We traded Morin and a 1st rounder for an uproven defenseman!? I just don’t see it…… And, if I’m not mistaken, the first responsibility of a defenseman is DEFENSE, not scoring….. The Thrashers do not need another defenseman who is thinking offense first. We need to stop the puck from going into our net……….

Barry

September 11th, 2010
12:02 pm

I honestly think Byfuglien would serve this team better as a forward and getting in front of the crease. I guess we’ll see how this works out if it does turn out he’s going to be a defenseman this year. We have plenty of young capable defensemen who can fill this spot instead of Dustin. Kulda looked like a 5 year pro when he got called up. I didn’t see any hesitation in his game at all. Working with Chelios really helped this kid be mature beyond his playing years.

Brendan

September 11th, 2010
1:09 pm

It’s not really that difficult to spot a Sage imposter. No matter how much you might dislike that particular poster, it’s not right to impersonate someone’s handle. If Sage bothers you, just ignore him. If you’re a regular reader at this blogspot, you probably have a few posters on your permanent ignore list. That’s how to handle it.

Jack

September 11th, 2010
10:16 pm

Chris you may want to check for Sage’s e-mail in your Spam filter. :)

Rhythmpenguin

September 12th, 2010
8:12 am

JHL- What trade?

goose

September 12th, 2010
10:59 am

Ryth- the trade with chicago that we got buyfuglien in

SCHUBERT

September 12th, 2010
11:54 am

IS ANYONE GOING TO SIGN ME?

Rhythmpenguin

September 12th, 2010
12:22 pm

Got it! Thanks goosey

kracker

September 12th, 2010
12:45 pm

I like Schubes but geez, he would be signed (or at least invited to camp) by now if he was worth a roster spot. Maybe he wants only a one-way? Nah, that can’t be…

kracker

September 12th, 2010
8:30 pm

No Klinger at camp tomorrow :( He is not making the trip over. Not that unexpected, really.