Jets’ Byfuglien Possible Bruins’ Trade Target?

The Boston Bruins need a top-four defenseman; is the Winnipeg Jets’ big Dustin Byfuglien a suitable trade candidate? There was a great deal of weekend buzz on the subject.

The math is almost there for a Byfuglien trade involving the two teams, but what are the odds of it happening? On paper, it’s hard to see the Bruins taking on Byfuglien, but with significant salary going the other way, it’s certainly possible. The Jets have nearly $13 million in salary cap space at the moment, but things will turn upside before too long with Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele, and Adam Lowry all in need of new contracts by next summer, not to mention Winnipeg’s UFAs Andrew Ladd and … Byfuglien.

Dustin Byfuglien, Bruins, Winnipeg Jets
Dustin Byfuglien: Trade him now or wait? (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s unlikely that the Jets will retain the services of all of the players seeking new deals after next season. However, Trouba, Scheifele, Lowry, Ladd and Byfuglien all fit into the Jets’ current budget plan, so general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has the luxury of biding his time before reaching for his wallet; he could make a Byfuglien trade now, wait for the deadline or just see how next season pans out with a view to a major rebuild in 2016-17. That said, Cheveldayoff would be wise to make a deal now, and the Bruins are a team that desperately needs help on the blue line.

The B’s are rebuilding. Their disappointing 2014-15 season illustrated a serious need for a change of direction and a change in personnel. When the team traded away Milan Lucic, (following the departures of the hard-hitting Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton), the first wave of the restructure began. More moves are expected, and for most Bruins’ fans, the changes should happen sooner rather than later.

Byfuglien Fits the Bill for Bruins

Enter Byfuglien, a juggernaut powerhouse at 6’5″ and 265lbs and completely fitting the bill to beef-up any team’s D-line. Similar to the Washington Capitals’ situation of a couple of seasons ago, the Bruins need a big-hitting defenseman who is not afraid to take on forward duties when needed. Byfuglien recorded 203 hits last season for the Jets at 2.94 hits-per-game. On top of those stats, he’s tallied at least 45 points in four of the last five NHL seasons (the only exception was the strike-shortened 2012-13 season), and he’s recorded two 20-plus goals seasons in his 10-year career; his slap shot is one of the best in the league.

If Cheveldayoff deals Byfuglien, Boston would not be the only team courting Big Buf. More than a few teams would be in line to snap up the services of the huge, bulky, hard-hitting and scoring defenseman. Dealing now, rather than at the deadline, would increase the Jets’ return for the 30-year-old Byfuglien significantly though.

So, which team should Byfuglien go to? The Bruins? The Red Wings? The Oilers? Or is the wisest choice just to keep him where he is until next summer?