While the Dustin Byfuglien era with the Winnipeg Jets officially ended back in April, it sounds like a new one could be coming to the veteran defenseman.
At first, it was believed that the 35-year-old was done with hockey. But we all know that since he and the Jets “mutually resolving” the grievance he filed last year, his contract has been terminated and he could get a deal somewhere else in the NHL.
This prompted Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star to suggest that Big Buff could be a fit for the Maple Leafs, looking to boost their back end as much as possible to become true contenders.
“Is Dustin Byfuglien a possibility?” he asks.
Now, we don’t know if Byfuglien would be the right decision to come in and boost Toronto’s blue line. After all, the guy hasn’t played over a year.
We all remember how this all started when Byfuglien refused to show up at the Jets training camp at the start of the season. On September 13, 2019, the blue liner was granted an indefinite personal leave of absence by the team. However, he was later suspended by the Jets for not returning to training camp, though later reports indicated this was for salary cap relief. He underwent surgery for a high ankle sprain in late October, 2019, without direct involvement of the team. Byfuglien’s camp claimed that surgery was a result of injuries suffered during the previous regular season and playoffs and the Jets should have paid for it. Winnipeg claimed Byfuglien had been given a clean bill of health at the end of the 2018-19 season. This is what led to the grievance being filed. On February 24, 2020, the Jets announced that Byfuglien would not return for the remainder of the season.
When his contract was terminated, many assumed that Buff could settle for a smaller deal with another team, however, COVID-19 happened, the NHL’ Return to Play plan and now the offseason is at our doors.
Could Buff be willing to accept less money to finish his career in the NHL? What about with the Leafs?
The 35-year-old defenseman tallied four goals and 27 assists for a total of 31 points in 42 games in 2018-19. These might be his last stats on record for the NHL unless McGran is right and Toronto offers him a deal.