As part of a recent mailbag segment, Andrew Berkshire of Sportsnet was asked if the Montreal Canadiens might be looking at defenseman Dustin Byfuglien as an option for their blue line next season? There are questions about whether or not Byfuglien is even ready to make a return to hockey, but if he is, would he be a fit for a Canadiens’ team that is looking to add on the back end?
Berkshire’s immediate reaction was to pay respect to what Byfuglien has accomplished in the NHL, but also notes that he doesn’t see a fit in Montreal.
While the Canadiens are looking to improve their blue line depth and Byfuglien has a strong history in the league that could make him a steal for a team should he come back motivated, the red flags are too obvious to ignore.
Byfuglien is now a 35-year-old defenseman who missed all of this past season and didn’t train. Between his age, injury history, and questions about commitment, Byfuglien is likely not the solution to the Canadiens problems.
Berkshire does think Byfuglien could land a job if he chooses to return, but writes:
I don’t think there’s any question that if Byfuglien wants to play that he’ll have a place in the NHL, but with the Canadiens already deep on the right side with Shea Weber and Jeff Petry, I don’t see a fit there.
If Byfuglien is going to find work this coming season in the NHL, he’s going to have two choices. Either sign with a team that has money but not the best chances to win. Or, take a very team-friendly deal with a club willing to take a flyer on a player who could wind up being completely unproductive. If he winds up surprising everyone with his play, he can make more money on his next deal.