Cons To Signing Byfuglien
As an elite player as Dustin Byfuglien is, and he belongs in the conversation for top 50 defensemen of all time in my opinion, the veteran is also an incredibly complex character.
The recent debacle with the Winnipeg Jets, a franchise he called home for eight years, proved that and the biggest question mark hovering over Byfuglien currently is if he even wants to play hockey again.
Those closest to him don’t seem to have an answer to that million-dollar question, and it is one that will obviously need to be answered sooner rather than later.
If Byfuglien does wish to return to a sport he has dominated, then you would assume that the passion and the desire to win and succeed is there, although you can never be too sure when it comes to “Big Buff.”
Another major concern is the defenseman’s health given his recent recovery from ankle surgery, while his body has taken a lot of punishment due to the punishing and bone-crushing hits he has delivered throughout his career.
He also hasn’t played hockey for a year and how fast he can get back into shape will also be the big question on the lips of many an NHL General Manager.
And, at 35-years-old, there is bound to be a lot of wear and tear on the defenseman’s body, making it a genuine question as to how much Byfuglien has left in the tank.
That leads us onto the final caveat at play.
Carrying a whopping cap hit of $7,600,000 prior to parting ways with the Winnipeg Jets, Byfuglien was certainly paid well.
If he does return to hockey, that will likely change, especially if he is tempted to finish his career in Vegas with the Golden Knights.
With the entire NHL landscape set to be impacted massively in the wake of COVID-19, the salary cap will likely be frozen at $81.5 million for the 2020-21 season.
As a result, very few teams will want or be able to throw huge bags of money in Byfuglien’s direction, and that includes the Golden Knights who are projected to have less than $9 million in cap space with seven free agents to try and re-sign if the cap remains where it is.
So, unless Byfuglien would be willing to settle for a very team-friendly deal in exchange for one more kick at the can when it comes to adding another Stanley Cup to his resume, then Vegas could be in luck.
After all, you can make a strong argument that Byfuglien should have more than one ring under his belt given his superior talent, but it remains to be seen what his motives are and whether winning another championship is worth leaving money on the table.