When defenseman Dustin Byfuglien became available on the free agent market, we all expected teams to show interest and try to get the blue liner in a new uniform, at least for the 2020-21 season. It all started when Byfuglien refused to show up at the Winnipeg Jets’ training camp at the start of 2019-20. On September 13, 2019, he 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. On February 24, 2020, the Jets announced that Byfuglien would not return for the remainder of the season and his contract was terminated.
While fans expected him to sign elsewhere, it seemed like teams were worried about his level of interest to continue playing hockey and their fears were confirmed when his agent Ben Hankinson recently joined Michael Russo and Anthony LaPanta on Episode 266 of The Russo Hockey Show and said it was a “longshot” if Byfuglien ever comes back and plays in the National Hockey League.
However, there were some type of offer on the table after Buff met with Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin to see if a deal with the team could be agreed upon, signing him with his home-state team.
But it sounds like this (only) offer is now off the table as the Hockey Wilderness notes a blue line shuffle would not make sense for the Wild.
“The top-four is clearly defined. Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba, and Jonas Brodin will shoulder the majority of the minutes that are available for the six defenders. With Carson Soucy and Brad Hunt coming up as the bottom pair last season — who provided above-aver expected goal share numbers — the group of defensemen is as solid as ever.”
It would create quite the stir if Buff were to join the Wild, not to mention that the veteran player is coming off of a chronic ankle injury that he battled with for the last two seasons. Quite the risk.
It may be why it sounds like this offer is dead, especially with agent Hankinson hinting many times at his client’s retirement from the game. His agent's words:
“I think really it’s going to be a long shot if he comes back and plays, he hunts and fishes and he’s got young kids and he’s very active in their lives, he’s got some anchorage here in Minneapolis that would make it a perfect fit for him to come back and play for the Wild […] but I think it’s going to be a very long shot.”
The 35-year-old defenseman tallied four goals and 27 assists for a total of 31 points in 42 games in 2018-19. And he won’t add more to his stat list in Minnesota it seems…