Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien continues to be on a leave of absence due to personal reasons, prompting the team to consider looking into the option to replace him.
Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff spoke on the situation on Monday. He said, "The situation with [Byfuglien] is status quo. What that means as far as my level of activity, again you look at what might be available, what might not be available. You add into it the equation of the [NHL salary cap]. You add into it the equation of timing. You add into it the assets you may have." Byfuglien has two years remaining on a five-year, $38 million contract with an average annual value at $7.6 million.
Cheveldayoff also commented on any potential other opportunities coming the team's way, and how they have been dealing with Byfuglien leave. (Via NHL.com)
"But that would be no different if [Byfuglien] was here. The cap space might be a little bit different, but that's a normal occurrence in a hockey team... You're always looking and evaluating when options or opportunities are there. Again, it's like any injury right now -- you treat it like that. That's really the preparedness level that you're at. The coaches, when a player gets injured, they take his name and put him onto the [injured reserve] or they put him off to the side and they deal with what they have in front of them."
Cheveldayoff spoke highly of the coaches and how they have approached the situation given. "I think our coaches have done a fantastic job of dealing with what they've had in front of them and they're going to continue to do that," he said. "If I walk back into the office and say this is what is happening with [Byfuglien] or that's happening with [Byfuglien], they'll act accordingly because that's what coaches do." Cheveldayoff also mentioned that he spoke to Byfuglien earlier in the week but did not disclose details of the conversation.
Byfuglien was suspended by the team on Sept. 21 for not attending training camp and missed 34 games last season due to two different back injuries.
The Jets will start the regular season at Madison Square Garden on Thursday against the New York Rangers, but may be without their star defenseman.