Byfuglien had missed the entire season with the Jets and was granted a leave of absence on September 12. The 35-year-old defenseman underwent ankle surgery this past October.
The past few seasons Byfuglien’s production has dropped. He previously could be counted on to score around 20 goals and record 50 points, but that dropped to 8 goals and 45 points in 2017-18 and 4 goals and 27 points in 2018-19. The 2018-19 season also saw him limited to just 42 games.
Despite missing almost half the season, Byfuglien would have an impact when the Jet’s made it to the playoffs. He was 2-6-8 in six games and lead the team with an average time of ice of 25:41.
If the Coyotes were to take a chance on Byfuglien they would add a big, physical defenseman who can still be counted on to generate some offense. If he is healthy he could prove to be an addition to the Coyotes blue line.
For the Coyotes to add Byfuglien two things would need to happen. The Coyotes would need to free up space and Byfuglien would need to be willing to take a low cost, short-term deal.
Arizona already has seven defensemen under contract, and all but Ilya Lyubushkin are signed through the 2020-21 season. Kyle Capobianco also seems ready to make the leap to the NHL and probably isn’t going to benefit much from another season in the AHL.
It is tough to know what the market is for a player like Byfuglien. He is 35 and his production has been sliding for the past few seasons, and he just missed the last season with an ankle injury. Anything over one season would be a huge risk, and it shouldn’t come with a no movement or no trade clause. Ideally, the deal should also come with a relatively low salary with performance bonuses.
Right now it’s a total mystery what Dustin Byfuglien is going to do. After leaving the organization he has been with since the final days of the Atlanta Thrashers he may be ready to hang up his skates and retire. He is a Stanley Cup Champion, a four-time NHL All-Star, and has represented team USA at the World Cup of Hockey.
No one can deny Byfuglien has had an excellent career, and if he wants to retire now on his own terms nobody would blame him. But if he thinks he can still play the Coyotes should take a good look at him.