NHL Rumors: Byfuglien, Rantanen, Oilers, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news on the reasons for the absence of Dustin Byfuglien in Winnipeg, updates on how close (or not close) the Colorado Avalanche are to signing Mikko Rantanen, and if there is a deal in place from the Edmonton Oilers to sign a KHL forward.

Why is Byfuglien Taking Time Away?

In an interesting story out of Winnipeg, defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has asked for some personal time away from the Winnipeg Jets and has been granted a leave. Not injury related, but not confirmed why he needs the time away, more details are coming to light.

Winnipeg Jets' Dustin Byfuglien
Winnipeg Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Bob McKenzie of TSN posted a series of tweets suggesting Byfuglien is using the time to ponder his NHL future. It’s too soon to say that he’s thinking about retiring but speculation is that he may be wondering if playing out the final two years of his current five-year contract in the NHL is something he wants to do. McKenzie notes there’s no timetable for a decision but that the Jets are giving him the time he needs to figure things out.

Neither the Jets nor Byfuglien’s agent Ben Hankinson responded to a request for comment but Brian Lawton was on Oilers Now radio Wednesday and said, he saw the defensemen just 10 days ago and thought he looked in great shape. This wasn’t about him not being prepared to play another NHL season.

If Byfuglien does choose to shut it down, this could pose a huge issue for the Jets who moved Jacob Trouba, let Tyler Myers leave in free agency and would see their blue line go from an area of strength last season to a huge weakness this season.

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Rantanen and Laine Deals Not Close

Rick Dhaliwal of Sportsnet writes that the agent for restricted free agents Patrik Laine and Mikko Rantanen, Mike Luit said, “We are not close.” It sounds like Liut is expecting the Colorado Avalanche to use Mitch Marner’s new deal as a marker for Rantanen’s deal.

Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon
Colorado Avalanche Mikko Rantanen waits for a face off with Nathan MacKinnon. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski)

Dhaliwal quotes Liut when he writes, “Is there a comparable, yes I think Mitch Marner and Mika Rantanen are probably the 2 closest comparables in terms of how they play the game, wingers who create offense for those that they are playing with.”

As for Laine, the comments he made regarding playing time didn’t necessarily go over well in Winnipeg and Lawton noted to Bob Stauffer that he knows Laine called Brian Little and apologized. Still, the goal-scoring forward is not close to a deal with the Jets and does believe he’s not always been used properly by the team.

Liut downplayed the idea that either one would sign with a European club even if the contract included an NHL-out clause.

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Do Oilers Have a Deal in Place for Burdasov?

According to Igor Eronko, KHL forward Anton Burdasov has agreed to a PTO with the Edmonton Oilers. Most insiders are noting that he’ll be in tough to make the team but Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic writes that Ken Holland said, “We’re giving him an opportunity.” The Oilers could certainly use more depth at right wing.

Mark Spector of Sportsnet writes that, according to Eronko, if Burdasov can make the Oilers, he’ll get a one-year $1.7 million deal. That report was not confirmed by the Oilers and sources are denying that number. Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 says that Holland commented directly on the dollar figure with “I’d say that is inaccurate.” The Oilers have said they will talk contract with Burdasov’s camp if/when he makes the team.

For those that aren’t familiar with Burdasov, he’s a right-winger with size and a good shot. He has offers in the KHL to play already.

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