The Winnipeg Jets have had their hands tied with a rather unfortunate situation this season, but now it seems as though things may finally be reaching a point of clarity for the Jets organization.
According to a stunning report on Monday morning from TSN National Hockey League insider Frank Seravalli, there is now a belief that veteran defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets will agree to mutually end their relationship, effectively putting an end to Byfuglien's NHL contract. From Servalli:
The Winnipeg Jets’ salary cap picture appears to finally be coming into clearer focus three weeks before TradeCentre.
The Jets and defenceman Dustin Byfuglien are working toward a mutual contract termination over the next several days, according to multiple sources, which would formally end his suspension and bring to a close the grievance Byfuglien filed in November.
That is a truly blockbuster announcement from Servalli and one that could have major ramifications for both the Jets and the rest of the National Hockey League and in very short order no less. If this does come to pass as Seravalli's sources are claiming it will, Dustin Byfuglien will effectively become an unrestricted free agent much in the way that former Los Angeles Kings forward and current Montreal Canadiens forward Ilya Kovalchuk did earlier this season. That would make Byfuglien eligible to sign with any of the teams in the National Hockey League as a free agent this season, something that would obviously provide a drastic boost to any blue line around the NHL.
That however may be jumping the gun a little here. According to Seravalli at this stage of things Byfuglien's future on the ice remains very much in doubt, and that makes it seems unlikely that he would return to action this season. The 34 year old defenseman has not resumed skating since undergoing offseason ankle surgery and only began his rehabilitation process from what is believed to have been a major surgery sometime in mid December. If Byfuglien still has a long road back to the NHL then teams will no doubt be wary of adding him in the hopes that he will be in game shape come the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The possibility of Byfuglien returning sometime next season appears to still be on the table, but it sounds like the possibility of retirement is also a very real one at this time.
The good news here for the Jets of course will be the fact that they would get Byfuglien's $7.6 million cap hit off the books right before the trade deadline, salary cap space that could see them having a major impact at the trade deadline.