Winnipeg Jets star Dustin Byfuglien and captain Andrew Ladd are both due for big pay days following this upcoming season. Both players deserve the salaries they’ll undoubtedly get, but the problem is, the Jets may not be able to afford both. With Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, Adam Lowry, Michael Hutchinson, Joel Armia and JC Lipon all becoming restricted free agents at the same time, it would be difficult for the Jets to retain everyone while still staying under the cap. Now here’s the hard part, do we just let one of Ladd or Byfuglien walk? If Chevy has any sense, no. So one would have to be traded.
Trading Andrew Ladd is incredibly unlikely, he fills a position of need, is younger, and is the captain. The odds of Chevy dealing Ladd are very slim, he would have to be blown away by a team’s offer to do it.
However Dustin Byfuglien, despite being the better player and has arguably been the face of the franchise since the Jets moved to Winnipeg in 2011, is one of three very good right handed defensemen currently on the roster, (along with an underutilized Paul Postma who is presumably looking at property prices in the press box). Right handed defensemen are a massive position of strength for the Jets and trading the most valuable would give the Jets a way to fix their abysmal left handed defenseman depth and possibly keep filling their already great prospect pool.
Now what is the market for Dustin Byfuglien? Here’s five teams who may have an interest in the big guy and some pieces each team could offer to entice the Jets to send him there. The pieces I thought would interest the Jets the most, are young left handed defensemen. It best fills the needs of the Jets.
This is the least likely destination for Byfuglien to end up due to his no trade clause. That being said Edmontoncould potentially offer Leon Draisaitl or Jordan Eberle, though a name like Darnell Nurse or even Griffin Reinhart may be interesting thoughts albeit unlikely.
Florida is an "out there" pick that seems to make some sense. Florida is a young team that could use the leadership presence of Byfuglien. Florida’s top two defensive prospects (Mike Matheson and Ian McCoshen) are lefties AND are in the NCAA so that may entice Chevy to make a move. One of Matheson or McCoshen along with a pick and someone like Dave Bolland (you know how Chevy loves his Chicago guys), would might entice the Jets to move the all-star defenseman.
After trading Dougie Hamilton for pennies on the dollar, a right handed defenseman to fill his spot should be pretty enticing to Bruins’ GM Don Sweeney, especially one of Dustin Byfuglien’s versatility. A trade to Boston would presumably be centered around one of Loui Eriksson or Brad Marchand to start. Boston would also most likely need to add one of their left handed defensemen prospects such as Joe Morrow or Matt Grzelcyk.
Detroit Red Wings
Detroit seems to be an ideal destination for all parties. Detroit is insanely deep with left handed defensemen and could use another righty. This trade makes a ton of sense for both the Jets and Red Wings. For a trade of Dustin Byfuglien to Detroit to go through, the Red Wings would probably offer Teemu Pulkkinen and maybe a defensive prospect like Xavier Ouellet.
What can be said about Byfuglien to Philadelphia that hasn’t already been said? Wayne Simmonds, Travis Sanheim or Samuel Morin (as much as I would like Ivan Provorov that is too unrealistic to mention). One of these and either a pick or Matt Read could entice Chevy to send Byfuglien to Philadelphia and finally end the speculation for good.
Moving Dustin Byfuglien is probably not going to have any short term benefits, though trading the face of the franchise never really does. The true benefits of a trade would not be seen for another year or two when the pieces I proposed were ready for an NHL impact. Coincidentally by the time a lot of the young pieces are ready, the Jets will be ready to compete for the Stanley Cup. The future is bright with the Jets, but one trade would make it a lot brighter.