(Source: Jets.NHL.com) – The Winnipeg Jets today announced they have signed defenceman Dustin Byfuglien to a five-year contract extension with an average annual value of $7.6 million. Byfuglien, 30, has recorded 32 points (15G, 17A) so far this season while appearing in all 52 games and sits in a tie for second amongst all NHL defencemen with his 15 goals. Byfuglien leads the Jets so far this season in shots (163), penalty minutes (78) and ice time (24:14 per game).
Well that signing officially ends anyone’s daydreams of the Bruins ever landing Dustin Byfuglien.
Back in early August before this season began there were rumblings from NHL insiders across the internet machine that Byfuglien may be in play in the trade market. And one of the first teams to pop up as a great match was the Boston Bruins. As we know the Bruins are in dire need of a legit top-4 defensive stud. Byfuglien’s size, skill set, and pedigree all fit the bill to be the guy Boston would covet. Even though the Winnipeg Jets have been in good shape salary cap wise, they are one of those franchises that sets it’s own internal salary cap for themselves that’s below what the league has set. They’re not going to spend the NHL salary cap just because they have the room.
So the obvious move to avoid going over that internal cap would have been to part ways with the soon to be 30-year-old free agent defenseman who demands a big payday, and with his years of tough physical play, could break down sooner than later. Loui Eriksson would have been the obvious chip, plus a high draft pick and a young defenseman, to ship back to Winnipeg in exchange for “Big Buff”. But that fantasy league move will not be happening with Byfuglien now locked up in Winnipeg for the next five seasons.
This is a really smart move by Winnipeg. I’m sure Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff had tons of GM’s texting and snap chatting him anything enticing they could think of to try and get Byfuglien from his cold Manitoban hands. But a player like Byfuglien is a rarity. It’s amazing to think he was an 8th round draft pick back in 2003. They don’t even have eight rounds in the NHL draft any more. Having him eventually turn into a stud on the blue line, and being able to keep him in today’s cap crunched NHL, is incredible. That type of beast on defense is basically priority number one for franchises looking to sustain long term success. Parting ways with #33 would have been a huge mistake both on the ice and from a marketing perspective. He is a beloved fan favorite in Winnipeg.
The clock will continue to tick down to the trade deadline and the Bruins will continue to search for that elusive 25 minute a night defensive hero. There’s only 20 days left to find a match and make that move if Boston is going to do anything before seasons end. If they do strike a deal somewhere it will no longer involve Dustin Byfuglien.