Enstrom mark won't pass without notice

BY foxsports • December 23, 2009

Tobias Enstrom quietly entered the Thrashers' record book last week, so quietly, in fact, that he was unaware he'd done it.

But there he is: all-time leader in assists by a defenseman (86).

"I don't keep up with the statistics like that," Enstrom said. "Someone told me, so now I know."

Enstrom set his record in just 199 NHL games over two-plus seasons. He tied Frantisek Kaberle's franchise record of 82 in last week's game against Dallas and immediately distanced himself with two assists in each of the past two games.

With a total of 26 assists this season, Enstrom leads the team, posting four more than forward Nik Antropov. He currently has a six-game point streak, with seven helpers in the stretch.

Enstrom is also closing in on the team's all-time record for points by defensemen. His 99 points trail only Yannick Tremblay (107) and Kaberle (102).

But somebody will have to let Enstrom know when he reaches that mark too.

"He doesn't like to talk about himself, that's for sure," said Johnan Hedberg, the Thrashers goaltender and fellow Swede. "Even though I've been around him every day for three years, he very, very seldom talks about his accomplishments. You say, 'Great job, Toby,' and he shrugs it off."

The Thrashers leaderboard is not the only one with Enstrom's name on it. He is also 11th in the NHL in assists and fourth among defensemen. Add in his three goals and his 29 points rank fourth in the league in defensive scoring.

"I've always enjoyed to pass the puck, so that's what I do," Enstrom said. "It feels good to help the goal-scorers out. I don't know why I'm not a big shooter. The coach is picking on me to shoot the puck a bit more."

Part of the reason Enstrom piles up assists is his role as quarterback of the team's power play unit. Of his 26 assists, 10 have come on the man-advantage.

And then there is the matter dealing with one No. 17. Enstrom has also assisted on eight of Ilya Kovalchuk's 20 goals.

"Kovalchuk is the top scorer in the league, from my eyes," Enstrom said. "With his shot, if I can feed him, then I'm happy to do it."

Being paired with Niclas Havelid, another Swede, helped Enstrom in his rookie season, according to Hedberg.

"Nic helped in to help him grow into a NHL player, on and off the ice," Hedberg said.

After playing much of last season and the start of this year with rookie Zach Bogosian, Enstrom has since been paired with 11-year veteran Pavel Kubina.

"He's a good skater and a good passer," Kubina said. "That's why he has so many assists. I like to play with Toby a lot. ... He's a great guy to be around. He treats the players with respect. That's what matters in this game."

Although there might be one thing that bothers Kubina about him.

"Some times he talks Swedish with Moose [Hedberg] and I don't understand it," Kubina joked. "That's the only thing I don't like about [the paring]."

The unassuming Enstrom is more pleased with the team's record than his record.

"It's always fun to score points, but in the end it's all about winning," Enstrom said. "It feels good that I can help out."



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