Dustin Byfuglien is officially a free agent and he could be an intriguing wildcard option for the Vegas Golden Knights to pursue in the off-season.
It was announced earlier this month that the Winnipeg Jets and Byfuglien had mutually agreed to terminate his contract, leaving the door open for contending teams like the Vegas Golden Knights to line up for one of the most polarizing defensemen to have ever played the game.
Having not played for a year, speculation had raged about Byfuglien’s future for a while and the eventual outcome between the player and the Jets shouldn’t have come as a surprise due to all the reports circulating about strained relationships between the two parties.
Stemming back to the off-season, the relationship between Byfuglien and Winnipeg had been strained to say the very least, if not fractured with the cracks appearing larger by the day.
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The bruising powerhouse was granted a requested leave of absence for personal reasons on the eve of Training Camp, but that’s when things began to get murky.
Byfuglien underwent ankle surgery in late October and then filed a grievance through the NHLPA in order to be paid while recovering from a hockey-related injury, despite the fact that the Jets had no knowledge of any health issues over the summer.
It all made for a messy situation and it eventually boiled over earlier this month when Byfuglien opted to walk away from $7.6 million both this year and next, officially making him an unrestricted free agent.
Now, it is no certainty that Byfuglien, ever private and elusive, even wants to pull on a pair of skates again, with former Chicago Blackhawks teammate Kris Versteeg admitting that he would be “shocked if he ever played again.”
But, what is certain is the fact that a large majority of the 31 NHL teams would be queuing up for Byfuglien’s signature if the giant blueliner did decide to give it one more go.
And, craving a real horse on the blueline, the Vegas Golden Knights may well be one of those franchises.
However, with a bevy of different issues at play, we decided to run through the pros and cons of the Golden Knights making a run at Dustin Byfuglien in free agency…