Friday, 24 August 2018

End Of An Era

The photo to the left is all you need to know about where former Winnipeg Jets defenceman Tobias Enstrom will play this season. MODO of the Swedish Elite League made it official today as sports director Michael Sundlöv welcomed the 33 year-old rearguard to the club after Enstrom signed a deal that will bring him back to the team he last played with in Sweden before making the jump to the NHL. The deal with MODO today sees Enstrom reunited with his brother, Tommy, on the team, and Tobias will assume the captaincy for the club. At the end of the day, it appears that Tobias Enstrom's days in the NHL are officially over with today's news after four seasons in Atlanta and seven seasons in Winnipeg.

There was never any doubt that he wouldn't be back in Winnipeg after the Jets made it clear that they had no intention of re-signing Enstrom. While he certainly was a serviceable defender in his time in the Manitoba capital, his presence on the ice seemed to polarize the fanbase when it came to advanced statistics and the eye test. I'm not here to take sides, but it's fairly clear that the Jets and their advanced stats crew only saw regression in Enstrom's contributions which led to the decision to allow him to go to free agency.

Enstrom scored 28 goals and 137 points in a Jets uniform, but never quite found the offensive flair he showed in Atlanta. Enstrom surpassed his Atlanta-low of 32 points only once while wearing Winnipeg colours, but the advanced stats crowd will point to everything else that Enstrom did away from the puck that made him extremely valuable to the club. While there's no denying he played well defensively for the most part, the Jets may have looked at the decreasing number of games he was playing due to injury combined with his plummeting scoring totals and decided that they needed to make a change.

Lo and behold, Enstrom went into this summer as a free agent for the first time in his career, and it seems he didn't have to look far after returning home to Ornskoldsviktrakten, Sweden following Winnipeg's departure from the playoffs.

"It has been a bit of a circus all summer. This is the first time I have been a free agent and it has been different. But when I decided to stay here in Sweden, it was an easy decision to choose Modo," Enstrom told Erik Karlsson of Sport Bladet.

Enstrom joins fellow countrymen Kenny Jonsson, Marcus Ragnarson and Dick Tarnstrom as NHL players who have returned to the Swedish Elite League in a non-lockout year. After 719 NHL games and a SEL championship with MODO in 2006-07, Enstrom returns to try and book-end his NHL career with another SEL championship.

If Enstrom can help MODO win, I don't think there will any doubt about his decision after having a few NHL teams take flyers this summer. It won't be easy, though, as MODO finished tenth-overall out of fourteen SEL teams last season. Whatever happens this season, I expect that Enstrom will give everything he has. There's a lot of hockey left in Tobias Enstrom, and here's hoping he can help MODO return to the top of the SEL standings!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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