According to a recent report by TSN’s Darren Dreger, it is believed that defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is ready to take the next step in his rehab of an ankle injury that, at one point, had threatened his NHL career.
Most already know the story. Byfuglien was playing injured to close the 2018-19 NHL season. He didn’t properly notify the team, took the summer off, tried to return this past off-season and wasn’t ready to get into NHL action. Instead of divulging the details of his injury, allegedly, he just walked away and said he wasn’t sure he wanted to play again.
The Jets then suspended him for not showing up and under suspension, were not required to pay him his salary.
Byfulgien responded by requesting an arbitrator resolve the situation and felt entitled to the money owed on his $7.6 million per season salary. Things didn’t look good between the two sides.
Fast forward to now and things have been a little quiet on the Byfuglien front. He had surgery and from there, most people assume the lack of information is because he’s working on rehabbing his ankle to he can return to the NHL. Whether his long-term future is in Winnipeg or not remains in question and how the Jets will fit his salary into their current team structure when he is ready is another issue that will require addressing when the time comes.
Dreger’s Report on Byfuglien’s Progress
Dreger reports the defenseman is now at the point in his rehab that testing his ankle on the ice might be the next step.
Dreger tweeted prior to the Jets vs Maple Leafs game on Wednesday, “He hasn’t yet [skated on it], but a potential return clearly hinges on the next phase and some think he’s at that point.”
It’s hard to know how far away that means Byfuglien would be, but one would assume not close. Just because he’s able to skate on the rehabbed ankle doesn’t mean he’s anywhere close to a return.
That said, the Jets appear as though they know it’s never too early to start making plans. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff admitted that he’s aware of how greatly Byfuglien’s salary and the insertion of it into the Jets cap situation will affect what he can do at this year’s trade deadline and long-term with the team.
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