Could new unrestricted free agent defenseman/forward Dustin Byfuglien be of interest to Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney?
An NHL source confirmed to Boston Hockey Now, that Sweeney and his staff have previously targeted the 35-year-old, 6-foot-5, 260-pound now-former Winnipeg Jets player that mutually agreed with the club to terminate his contract Friday. According to this same source, with the Torey Krug contract talks at an amicable impasse and Sweeney, the Bruins – if they haven’t already – are expected to start looking at the free agency and trade market just in case. However, as this source pointed out, if healthy, not only could the ‘Big Buff’ – as he’s affectionately known as – bring some much-needed size to the blue line and fill some of the offense the Bruins would lose from Krug, Byfuglien could also potentially fill that second line void on the wing and be the big body that David Krejci has been longing for.
“It makes sense on a lot of levels if Krug leaves and Donny has some cap space to use,” the source said. “It’s likely, with his recent health history, his age and an at best, a flattened cap, he’s looking at a one-year deal for not that much. He’s definitely worth a gamble I think if he decides to play and he’s healthy.”
Speculation around the NHL in the immediate aftermath of the contract termination on Friday was that the Minneapolis native who still has a residence there and who is an avid outdoor sportsman and fisher, could be a good fit for the Minnesota Wild. New General Manager Bill Guerin has made it clear he wants more grit and nastiness on his roster and Byfuglien certainly brings that when healthy.
Byfuglien is walking away from $14 million in total as he was still owed for this season and next from a five-year, $38 million contract that carried a cap hit of $7.6 million.
Dustin Byfuglien did not receive any money from #nhljets as part of agreeing to resolve his grievance and terminate his contract. He walked away from $14 million due to him over this season and next.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) April 17, 2020
After Byfuglien was granted a leave of absence last summer but later suspended after he failed to report for training camp in September. He and the team apparently became at odds on how he should handle a high-ankle sprain he suffered during the 2018-19 NHL season. Byfuglien chose to not use team doctors and hired his own to perform the surgery in October. At the time, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff described the situation as “complicated” and the belief was there was bad blood. Given the fact the Jets had already lost defensemen Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot to free agency and traded defenseman Jacob Trouba, the Jets were caught off guard by a defenseman they expected and wanted to be the heart of their blueline.
Byfuglien, who won his one and only Stanley Cup as a forward and defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, has cracked the 50-point plateau four times and had 31 points in 42 games last season. He also has seven goals and 17 assists in his last 23 playoff games and overall has 21 goals and 29 assists in 66 career postseason games. In 869 career games, Byfuglien has 177 goals and 348 assists.