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High praise for Enstrom

Toby Enstrom (centre) drops in front of a shot by Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar.


Toby Enstrom (centre) drops in front of a shot by Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/2/2015 (1938 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

DETROIT — Toby Enstrom doesn’t get much love from some corners, and, in fact, he’s often one of the Winnipeg Jets defenders fans love to hate.

Don’t count Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock in that group. Babcock was asked about the Jets blue-line prior to Saturday’s game and singled out Enstrom.

"They’ve got Buff (Dustin Byfuglien), (Tyler) Myers and (Jacob) Trouba on the right side. And, I think, (Toby) Enstrom is an elite player," said Babcock. "That’s a pretty good back end."

Enstrom often gets maligned for his size, he’s erroneously listed at 5-10, 180 pounds, and for the perception he doesn’t win battles in his own zone.

Sure, Enstrom is small and not much of a bruiser, but he’s smart positionally, has a great stick and is one of the NHL’s best passers. Coaches around the league rave about his ability to go back and get the puck in his zone with speed and then quickly turn it back up ice and make a sure first pass.

In today’s NHL, having a defenceman who can put his team back on the possession side of the game is preferred over a "good in his own zone," player.

At least by coaches if not some fans.

Kicking tires: One of the many trade rumours making the rounds right now is the Jets having inquired about the availability of Columbus Blue Jackets winger Matt Calvert. The Brandon native is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, and with the Jackets out of the playoff picture, he’s rumoured to be available and the asking price isn’t too high.

Calvert, 25, has seven goals and seven assists in 42 games this season.

The Blue Jackets have a salary cap crunch looming, and word is Calvert could be had for a second-round pick or a medium prospect.

The scouting report on Calvert is he plays hard with a strong pursuit-based game. He has good but not great finish and would be a third-line player on a contending team.

New wrinkle: In the third period of Winnipeg’s 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, Jets coach Paul Maurice went mostly with four D down the stretch. Enstrom and Myers stayed together but Maurice moved Byfuglien over to the right side with Trouba and limited the work of Mark Stuart and Ben Chiarot.

Healthy Helm: St. Andrews product Darren Helm has played in all 54 games for the Red Wings this season, which is a huge change for him. Helm saw action in just 42 games last season and in the lockout-shortened season of 2012-13 played in two AHL games and one NHL game.

"Helmer’s been healthy this season and it’s made a big difference for us," said Babcock. "It’s hard to play with a sore back. We’ve used him on the wing this year. He’s been good for us."

Helm, who scored Detroit’s second goal last night, has 12 goals and 25 points so far this season and is now playing on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar.

"The last 2 1/2 years. First it was the wrist, then a knee and the a concussion and then a shoulder and then my back," said Helm. "It’s great to be healthy and get out of bed and feel good and not have to worry about how I’m going to play."


Twitter: @garylawless


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