Rumors have been swirling all season surrounding the future of defenseman Dustin Byfuglien in Winnipeg. As of Monday afternoon, the verdict is in: Byfuglien is staying.
The Jets and Byfuglien agreed to a five-year, $38 million extension with an annual average value of $7.6 million. Byfuglien now has the third-highest cap hit among defensemen in the National Hockey League, behind only P.K. Subban and Shea Weber. He will also be the highest-paid player on the Jets.
Byfuglien’s extension includes a full no-movement clause, which will take effect immediately and will run through the first two years of the five-year deal, according to ESPN. At the beginning of the third year, Byfuglien will be able to submit a list of teams to which he’d accept a trade as part of a modified no-trade clause.
“I’ve been here five years,” Byfuglien told reporters after the deal was announced. “Where we started and where we’re at now, I don’t feel as an organization and as a group that we’re far off. We’ve taken the right steps.
“My family and I find Winnipeg nice, and we’re very happy to stay here and sign this. … I’m excited that I’m a Jet.”
Speculation has run rampant all season with Byfuglien and Jets captain Andrew Ladd set to become unrestricted free agents July 1, but the Jets decided to re-sign Byfuglien instead of moving him by the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
It’s unclear what this means for Ladd, since it’s unlikely the Jets can afford to or will be willing to hand out two enormous extensions. The Jets will have to make a decision one way or another, but it’s safe to assume Ladd will be on the move. This extension may also affect defenseman Jacob Trouba’s future in Winnipeg, as he will be a restricted free agent this summer. According to a Winnipeg Free Press report released in December, Trouba is seeking an eight-year, $56 million contract.
Byfuglien, 30, has 15 goals and 32 points in 52 games this season. His 15 goals are tied for second among defensemen. This is the third year in a row and the seventh time Byfuglien has scored at least 15 goals in a season.
The 6’5″, 260 lb. defenseman is known for his bullet point shot as well as his experience as both a forward and a defenseman. He scored 16 points in 22 playoff games en route to helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, and he played in his third career All-Star game in January.
In 11 seasons in the NHL, Byfuglien has 148 goals and 376 points in 649 games with the Blackhawks, Thrashers and Jets.
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