It appears the ongoing conflict between the Winnipeg Jets and Dustin Byfuglien could be nearing a resolution and the “most likely” scenario is that the star defenceman misses the rest of the 2019-20 season, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Byfuglien, 34, has missed the entire campaign to date after initially being suspended for failing to report to training camp before undergoing surgery to deal with an ankle injury at the end of October. The NHLPA filed a grievance challenging the suspension in November.
Byfuglien is scheduled to earn $8 million this season and $6 million next, but due to his suspension by the team, he hasn’t collected any of his salary. He is in the second-last season of a five-year, $38-million contract with the Jets.
The Jets said that the veteran defenceman was deemed fit to play after his 2018-19 season-ending physical, he didn’t indicate he was dealing with an ankle injury during the summer and made it clear at the beginning of the year he was ready to retire.
It was previously reported that the situation between the Jets and Byfuglien could end up in arbitration.
Friedman said if Byfuglien doesn’t return this season, it could give the Jets some flexibility in terms of their cap situation as they’ve had to “hold” his $7.6-millon hit until his plans are solidified.
“If this is the way it gets finalized in the next few days, I think it allows the Jets to do some things if they want to,” Friedman said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.
Friedman reports that Byfuglien has yet to resume skating and the Jets will revisit his future with the club in the summer. He reportedly started rehabbing the injury in December.