Winnipeg Jets defender Dustin Byfuglien's NHL future is still up in the air, and an injury may further complicate things. As per NBCSN (via TSN's Bob McKenzie), Byfuglien underwent ankle surgery to resolve a high-ankle sprain that had been bothersome since the end of last season.
The recovery timetable will keep the 14-year veteran sidelined at least through the remainder of the calendar year. TSN's Darren Dreger reported Thursday that Byfuglien's recovery has a "loose timeline," but that it could be longer than four months.
On Byfuglien: surgery was last week. Recovery expected to take until the New Year — and we’ll see what he decides. This adds an extra layer around his contract situation, too, because he can argue he deserves to be paid while recovering from a legitimate injury.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 31, 2019
Byfuglien has yet to play this season after being granted a personal leave of absence on Sept. 13, at which time, head coach Paul Maurice told TSN Radio 1290 that Byfuglien was "fine, but needed some time." General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told reporters the team had been aware Byfuglien was considering surgery, but they had not played a part in the decision.
Less than a week later, it was reported that the 34-year-old blueliner was mulling his NHL future during his absence. However, Maurice put any speculation to rest, telling reporters, "Let's just put it this way — there’s nothing sinister to this. You start going down the list and then the process of elimination . . . he has his right to privacy in this. Like I said, there's nothing sinister to it. He needs some time and he was given that."
Three days later, on Sept. 21, the team issued Byfuglien a suspension in an effort to remain flexible in cap space during the sans-Byfuglien timeframe — however long that may be.
It’s certainly premature to say Byfuglien will return to active duty in the NHL this season, but there is a sense if he does feel healthy again, he may be inclined to return at some point.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 31, 2019
Byfuglien has played 869 career games between the Jets and Blackhawks, recording 177 goals and 525 points. Winnipeg (6-7-0) sits three points outside the top-3 in the Central Division with 12 points.