WINNIPEG - The Winnipeg Jets are coming to a crossroads in their relationship with Toby Enstrom.
It’s not like the clock is ticking out of control or something they need to determine at this second, but before long, the Jets are going to have to figure out if Enstrom is going to be here for the long haul.
Make no mistake, the smooth-skating Swedish defenceman is a valued member of the organization and is under contract for another season at a salary-cap hit of $3.75 million, which is certainly a reasonable stipend for a player of his stature.
But once this contract expires, it’s clear Enstrom is going to be due a raise.
We’re not suggesting the Jets are — or will — be shopping Enstrom.
However, it’s no secret the Jets’ organizational depth is on the blueline and it’s no secret the Jets need to add to their forward group.
So, you have to figure general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff is going to have to at least listen if teams start calling, to get a better idea of what he could get back.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is less than a month away and that’s a time where teams historically make blockbuster deals, either for draft picks or other top-end talents.
From where we sit, Enstrom seems like the kind of guy who could bring the top-six forward the Jets’ covet, not to mention need, in order to take the next step.
Enstrom’s offensive production was down slightly this season (to six goals and 33 points in 62 games), but that had more to do with the fact he missed 20 games with a broken collarbone.
Despite that injury, Enstrom, 27, has been very durable throughout his career and is an excellent puck-mover.
He also posted consecutive 50-point seasons, piling up 101 points during his final two seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers.
Enstrom has one of the toughest jobs in sports, as the safety valve for Dustin Byfuglien, who has been known to join a rush or two.
What can’t be ignored is that the Jets have several other D-men that can contribute offensively, with Byfuglien (under contract for $5.2 million per through 2015-16) and Zach Bogosian (a restricted free agent at the end of next season who is also due a significant raise) headlining the list and American Hockey League all-star Paul Postma showing he’s ready for a full-time look as well.
All three of those guys have big shots and will log major minutes on the power play.
The next thing to ponder is what the Jets would get back, either straight-up for Enstrom or in a package with another player and/or prospects?
Defencemen are at a premium in the NHL and moving one could help the Jets’ bolster another area of need.
It shouldn’t be ignored that the Detroit Red Wings are going to need to replace an important defenceman, with captain Nicklas Lidstrom officially retiring on Thursday.
The Red Wings aren’t the only team that would be willing to welcome Enstrom with open arms.
What those teams might be willing to give up will ultimately determine whether or not Enstrom opens the 2012-13 campaign in Jets’ colours.