How the game has changed
Intro: Enstrom's rise in Atlanta
Watching Enstrom play this season, it’s almost impossible to fathom that 30 teams and hundreds of scouts could have been this wrong about a guy. Few outside the Thrashers organization and Enstrom’s immediate family had even heard of him prior to this season. And even those who knew him had no notion the little defenseman who could would come in and put together a season worthy of consideration for the Calder Trophy.
Patrick Kane and Nicklas Backstrom have received all of the Calder talk, 60 per cent of the way through the season, but Enstrom should be right in the mix.
For one, he leads his team and is 25th overall in the league in ice time per game, and is on pace for a 47-point season on the blue line. Defensively, he's also been strong, playing top-pairing minutes with Niclas Havelid against top competition, and Atlanta's goals against when he's on the ice is essentially the same as when he's not.
Where he excels is in driving the team's offence, as his team's goals for per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 time is 2.73 when he's playing and 1.87 when he's not. He's also been on the ice for about 80 per cent of the team's goals on the power play and plays big minutes on the penalty kill.
But the thing that really stands out with Enstrom is his size. He's listed at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, but even a quick glance at a game or photos reveals that's just a little generous.
As the result of the rule changes prior to 2005-06, defencemen in the NHL are getting smaller in general, with the number under six feet tall (like Enstrom) rising from the few to a sizable portion of blueliners this season.
|Under 6'||Under 6'1|
Enstrom's playing in tonight's YoungStars game, but he really should be on the ice tomorrow, showcasing the speed and skill that have helped him star in the NHL as one of the league's new little men.
The NHL's smallest defenders:
Kris Russell, Columbus - 5 foot 10, 168 pounds
Tobias Enstrom, Atlanta - 5 foot 10, 175 pounds
Magnus Johansson, Florida - 5 foot 11, 180 pounds
Mike Weaver, Vancouver - 5 foot 9, 182 pounds
Dan Boyle, Tampa Bay - 5 foot 11, 184 pounds
Ian White, Toronto - 5 foot 10, 185 pounds
Cory Murphy, Florida - 5 foot 10, 185 pounds
John-Michael Liles, Colorado - 5 foot 10, 185 pounds
Kyle Cumiskey, Colorado - 5 foot 10, 185 pounds
Labels: how the game has changed