Dustin Byfuglien, Jets Agree on New Contract: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2016

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien plays against the Nashville Predators in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Winnipeg Jets announced Monday that they re-signed defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to a five-year extension.

The 30-year-old will earn an average annual salary of $7.6 million over the course of the deal. Pro Hockey Talk's Mike Halford noted where the contract stacks up among the league's highest-paid defensemen:

ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance argued Byfuglien is more than worth the investment for Winnipeg:

E.J. Hradek of NHL Network believes both parties will end up benefiting from the contract:

Byfuglien is on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career. In 52 games, he has amassed 32 points, tied for 13th among fellow defensemen. His 15 goals, meanwhile, are tied for second at his position.

By signing Byfuglien now, the Jets are avoiding a potential conundrum in the buildup to the Feb. 29 trade deadline. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff doesn't have to worry about whether trading the veteran defenseman would be in the team's best interests rather than taking its chances in free agency.

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun ventures plenty of suitors were hoping Byfuglien would have been available in the coming weeks:

There's no question re-signing Byfuglien was the right move for the Jets. Winnipeg might be one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, but it couldn't afford to let Byfuglien slip through its grasp given his immense talent coupled with his ability to help at both ends of the ice.

By keeping one of their best players, the Jets are also sending the message they want to turn their fortunes around and become a steady fixture in the playoffs after missing out on the postseason in seven of the last eight years.