The trade never came to be, but there was buzz Dustin Byfulgien might get moved out of Winnipeg before the NHL Trade Deadline came and went on Monday.
It would have been a trade that included the acquiring team taking a huge risk that Byfuglien may or may not return. It didn’t seem likely, but there could be have been a chance he’d find a way back to the NHL during the playoffs. None of that matters now.
Byfuglien confirmed on Monday that he will not be back at any time during this NHL season. Andy Strickland is reporting that he’s confirmed the defensemen isn’t returning.
What’s interesting about all of this is how much talk Byfuglien got, but the GM apparently knew for a while he wasn’t coming back. Murat Ates of The Athletic notes that Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters he became aware that Dustin Byfuglien was definitely not playing this season “a couple of weeks ago”. -He became aware of it “when Byfuglien should have been skating towards rehab but wasn’t.”
At that point, Cheveldayoff knew he had cap space to make a move before Monday’s deadline had passed.
One of the other things Cheveldayoff noted was that it will be up to the organization as to how long Byfuglien has left on his current deal. “Winnipeg will have the *choice* as to whether Byfuglien has two years left on his contract or just one at the end of this season,” Ates notes.
None of that will matter if the Jets choose to trade or terminate his contract, or if Byfuglien chooses to retire.
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