It’s almost as if the Winnipeg Jets are trying to find ways to have this Dustin Byfulgien drama go on as long as possible. Either that, or they’re working to get anything they can out of a bad situation.
Today, it’s being reported by Frank Seravalli of TSN, that the reason the Winnipeg Jets have waited to pull the trigger on a mutual contract termination with the big defenseman is because they’re actively still trying to trade him. And, if they can’t, they don’t want a playoff team to have him on the cheap.
Seravalli explains that amazingly, a number of suitors have been in regular contact with the Jets and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff over the last weeks, kicking tires on the asking price. Seravalli notes that, “talks have only intensified in recent days leading up to the NHL’s Feb. 24 trade deadline.”
This is interesting on a couple of fronts. First, there’s no guarantee at all that Byfuglien will play this season. In fact, it’s likely he won’t. Any team that is inquiring is banking on the fact that Big Buff will decided to resume his playing career either during the playoffs or next season and after he’s left the Jets organization.
Second, should Byfuglien not return, he’s not going to count against a team’s books because he’s still technically suspended without pay. Should he return this season in the playoffs, he’d be like a free contract this season for a team — or at worst, just under $2 million pro-rated should he return before the playoffs. Meaning, his cap hit be large or won’t count in the regular season because he won’t be back. In short, if, for some reason, he’s able to play in games in the postseason, the money isn’t an issue this season. The only thing that becomes a question is, what playoff team is looking to add a piece that “could” be available later in the playoffs and how much are they willing to send the other way, knowing he might not be?
Take, for example, the Boston Bruins. They aren’t a team that makes sense because they don’t have the cap space required to fit Byfuglien in next season. But, the Toronto Maple Leafs might. Then again, Toronto might not make the playoffs. Do you want to give away assets at this stage as you claw to get in?
Chances are, the Jets aren’t asking for all that much. They’re simply trying to recoup something instead of getting nothing. So, if there’s a team that has lots of cap space for next season, can afford to give up a prospect or pick and they have a chance to go deep in the playoffs, the pieces might come together. That’s a lot of big ifs.
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