Dustin Byfulgien can’t sign anywhere until next season, at the earliest. But, that doesn’t mean he won’t consider his options, teams won’t figure out if they could use him and insiders speculate as to the likelihood he winds up elsewhere.
One day after the Winnipeg Jets terminated his contract, there is already talk about where Big Buff will wind up. As a free agent, Matt Teague of The Score.com listed the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues as three potential landing spots for the defenseman. Another scribe, Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago, suggested Byfgulien might be willing to come back home to Chicago.
The Montreal Canadiens and Byfuglien
With respect to the Canadiens, Teague believes Byfuglien would provide additional right-side depth for the team. Already employing Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, this would give the Canadiens a blue line threat they haven’t seen in some time.
Montreal has the money to spend and there is a lot of talk the team is interested in making a move while other NHL clubs will struggle with salary cap restrictions. If the Canadiens signed Byfuglien, that would be considered a big move.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Byfuglien
The idea that Toronto needs a new blue line is well documented. Likely focusing on Jake Muzzin and Morgan Rielly as their future, Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci are likely both gone. The Maple Leafs could use another piece.
The question is about salary with Toronto. They don’t have much room and are one of those teams that should struggle with finding space. Thus, adding Byfuglien seems tricky. But, GM Kyle Dubas has worked himself out of some cap jams before and if Byfuglien was willing to take a one-year deal at a reduced rate, he could find himself on the first-pairing right-side for the Maple Leafs. This would be the type of situation, should Byfuglien want to play more and earn a good contract, a showcase year works.
The St. Louis Blues and Byfuglien
Finally, the St. Louis Blues might be interested if Alex Pietrangelo leaves. There is a ton of talk about how St. Louis will fit Pietrangelo’s next deal in and some that are suggesting he’s already thinking about walking away.
The Blues just signed Marco Scandella and if Pietrangelo leaves, Byfuglien might be a nice replacement alongside Colton Parayko.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Byfuglien
Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago looked at Byfuglien as an option for the Chicago Blackhawks. There’s nothing like going home.
Byfuglien had some of his best and most successful NHL seasons in Chicago and one might have to wonder if there’s some comfort for a player who is unsure he wants to play in being somewhere familiar.
If Byfulgien is willing to sign an affordable one-year deal, the Blackhawks could pile on the bonuses and make something work.
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