Despite an abundance of trade speculation in recent weeks centered on Dustin Byfuglien, the Winnipeg Jets defenseman had no intention of leaving.
“I’ve been here five years and from where we’ve started and where we’re at now, I don’t feel as an organization or a group that we’re far off,” Byfuglien told TSN 1290. “My family and I have found Winnipeg nice, and we’re very happy to stay here.”
The comments come after the Jets announced that they had signed Byfuglien to a five-year, $38 million extension. At six-foot-five and 260 pounds, Byfuglien provides a unique combination of abilities as a two-way force who can put up points, defend and deliver big hits—making him an essential part of Winnipeg’s long-term plans and their ability to build on their first playoff appearance last spring in their fourth season since relocating back to Winnipeg.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff pointed not only to what “Buff” brings to the team on the ice, but also his maturity off the ice and what that means to the team’s success as a reason for extending him for five years.
“To see him grow into the family man that he is, he’s got a wonderful family, proud to call Winnipeg his home for the foreseeable future here — those are the things of maturity,” Cheveldayoff said. “He’s obviously a very smart hockey player that has unique abilities on the ice. But I think it’s that maturation of a person that has allowed him to understand how he can take his games to other levels, as well.”
Byfuglien has 15 goals and 17 assists for 32 points this season—tying him for 13th in defenseman scoring. He also leads Winnipeg with an average ice time of 24:14 per game.