Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is an unrestricted free agent “effective immediately”, the NHL announced on Friday.
Byfuglien, 34, has not played a single game this season.
The NHL published a press release that clarified Bygulien’s status. It read:
NEW YORK/TORONTO (April 17, 2020) – The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced today that the Winnipeg Jets and Player Dustin Byfuglien have mutually resolved the grievance filed by Mr. Byfuglien following his suspension by the Club in September 2019. Pursuant to the agreement, Byfuglien’s standard player’s contract with the Club has been terminated, effective immediately.
Big Buff has missed the entire season after being suspended by the Jets for failing to report to training camp. The suspension was issued by Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff for financial and salary cap reasons. Byfuglien contemplated retirement during that time and was granted a personal leave from the team. In late October, Byfuglien underwent ankle surgery to reportedly to fix an unresolved injury from the 2018-19 season. The NHLPA filed a grievance afterward challenging the Jets’ suspension in November.
“It’s a complicated issue,” Cheveldayoff said according to The Score. “I’m here to speak but there’s really not much that I can enlighten beyond what’s been talked about as it stands right now.
“Going back to the start of training camp, that’s when we met with Dustin and those are all pretty well-documented stuff and obviously over the course of time here, he has had an ankle surgery here now and we’re dealing with that,” he added. “So with respect to really anything else that I can comment on, that’s pretty much where it’s at, at this point in time. We’re in constant conversations with his agents and that’s where we’re at.”
The Jets deemed Byfuglien fit to play and healthy after conducting a season-ending physical with the defenseman after the 2018-19 season ended. Byfuglien did not indicate he was dealing with an ankle injury over that offseason.
According to Cap Friendly, Byfuglien was set to make $8 million this season and $6 million next in the final two years of his contract. Byfuglien did not receive any of that money to terminate his contract.
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
Kevin Cheveldayoff: "This was never our desired outcome or ending with Dustin."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 17, 2020
Screenshot courtesy of TSN
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