It’s funny what a change of scenery can do for a player. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tyler Myers is living proof.
The $38.5 million blueliner has gone from an overpaid disappointment in Buffalo, to a substantial piece in Winnipeg’s push for the playoffs. It’s a good thing too, since Myers’ salary isn’t the only hefty price the Jets have paid in acquiring the 25-year-old defender.
Risk & Reward
While those who judged the book by its cover are being proven wrong, trading for Tyler Myers was a gamble nonetheless. On paper, the Jets made out like bandits, selling off Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian for Drew Stafford, a pair of prospects, and a conditional first-round pick, along with Myers.
But despite Kane’s fallout in Winnipeg, the Jets were very much in the thick of things in an intimidating division and conference. With Bogosion’s presence on the blue line gone, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was counting on Myers to not only fill the void, but serve as an upgrade.
Much to Manitoba’s pleasure, the wager has paid off.
The Sabres and the Jets have now swapped man-children. And I can’t help but like the trade for Winnipeg. While Bogosian may be more physical and positionally sound, he doesn’t have much of an advantage over Myers given that he and Myers both anticipate plays in their own zone at the same speed. What’s Bogosian’s ceiling, realistically? Kevin Klein? Paul Martin? Given the choice between two athletic players with poor defensive awareness, I’ll take the more explosive skater every time. — Sam Page, Sports Illustrated
In his first 11 games games with the Jets, Myers has tallied points in every game but two. After being held to 13 points in 47 games with the Sabres, the 6-8 defenseman has added nine points in 11 games with Winnipeg, including a current four-game point streak.
Tyler Myers has nine points in 11 games as a Jet after 13 in 47 games as a Sabre. Not too shabby.
— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) March 11, 2015
“It’s the best,” said Myers via the Daily Reporter. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in this position. The fact that we’re in a position to give ourselves a chance to be a playoff team, I’m very excited to be here.”
Bogosian, on the other hand, has produced four points in 12 games with his new team. And while the 24-year-old wrecking ball’s offensive output has been limited in the last three years, skating for a team with a league worst 36.9 percent five-on-five SAT percentage won’t make life any easier.
That’s not to say Bogosian has been ineffective all together for the lowly Sabres, nor is it an indictment on his game. But for all the criticism hurled at Tyler Myers throughout his five and a half seasons in Buffalo, it’s an exhibit of what most already know: it’s hard to look like a star on a last place team.
“Things were obviously not going the way we wanted in Buffalo,” Myers told Michael Traikos of the National Post. “But I was playing the way I wanted to. It was just it’s clear they’re in the middle of a big rebuild. The way some guys were playing down there was just not noticeable with the position we were in.”
The calculated risk in Myers extends to Winnipeg’s finances. With an estimated $3.837 million of cap space, the Jets are now on the hook for Myers’ $5.5 million AAV for the next four years. That doesn’t vary much from Bogosian’s $5.142 million cap hit that’s one year longer, but with contracts to Michael Frolik, Jiri Tlusty, and Stafford, among others, expiring this year, bringing Myers aboard certainly had financial implications.
Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba make for an enviable group of right-shot defencemen, but can the Jets afford to pay all three and give all three the ice time they require? — Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press
Still, a $5.5 million cap hit is the going rate for the potential Myers possesses. Especially with his age, size, and puck-handling ability.
Floundering in a city like Buffalo, though, can distort a player’s value. But how much of Myers’ surroundings in Upstate New York were to blame for his dip in efficiency?
Based off of the small sample size with Winnipeg, a lot.
A Tale of Two Cities
In moving from Buffalo to Winnipeg, the change in currency hasn’t been the only difference for Myers. The sixth-year veteran has gone from spending 54.31 percent of his five-on-five deployment with Josh Gorges, to 64.72 percent frequency with Tobias Enstrom.
Based on SAT percentage alone, Myers has benefitted from the new pairing.
*Pairings based on most time spent together per team.
|With Buffalo||5-on-5 SAT%||Pairing||5-on-5 SAT%|
|Tyler Myers||34.1%||Josh Gorges||34.1%|
|With Winnipeg||5-on-5 SAT%||Pairing||5-on-5 SAT%|
|Tyler Myers||50.6%||Tobias Enstrom||50.6%|
At five-on-five through Mar. 11, Enstrom shows an overall 50.8 percent SAT percentage, while Gorges hasn’t played since Feb. 10 due to injury. Enstrom’s 13 even-strength points is second among Jets defenseman, trailing only Byfuglien, who has spent time this season as a forward.
Along with Myers, the eighth-year veteran is logging the team’s toughest minutes, showing a TOIC percentage of 17.6 percent – second among team defensemen behind Myers’ 17.7 percent. And at 5-10, 180 lbs., the Swedish skater adds speed, vision, and excellent two-way play.
Myers and Enstrom appear to be a match made in heaven. They can both skate, Enstrom is an elite passer and Myers has a blast of a shot. — Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press
With 15 games remaining on the schedule, Jets coach Paul Maurice will need his new pairing to build off of their new found chemistry. At 33-22-12, Winnipeg’s 78 points leave them clutching to the Western Conference’s second Wild Card spot, just one point ahead of the Los Angeles Kings.
“We have good people to take those minutes,” said Maurice of his defense via TSN’s Dennis Beyak. “You don’t replace them, but we have depth on the right side of our D. Jacob Trouba appreciates and enjoys playing more minutes. Tyler Myers and Toby Enstrom can play big minutes. We really like Dustin Byfuglien but don’t underestimate how good the back end still is.”
With upcoming tilts against teams such as, St. Louis, Chicago, and Vancouver, among others, the Jets are now a 48 percent chance to make the playoffs. But for Tyler Myers, and Drew Stafford for that matter, it’s a challenge that’s gladly received.
Tyler Myers looks like a different player in Winnipeg.
— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) March 1, 2015
“It’s definitely a welcome change considering the way the team has been going the last couple of years,” said Stafford according to Josh Cooper of Puck Daddy. “We’re extremely excited to be in the hunt to get back to the playoffs.”
From the Tank Wars to a playoff push, life has been good for the former Sabres. Especially for Myers, who’s enjoying a good laugh at the expense of his naysayers.