NHL Rumors: Winnipeg Jets, Dustin Byfuglien, and the Chicago Blackhawks
Byfuglien decision could be coming soon

Elliotte Friedman: There was word Saturday night that a decision for the status of Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien for the rest of this season is getting closer.

It sounds like he hasn’t started skating and that he “most likely” won’t be playing this season. His status for next season would then be revisited in the offseason.

Elliotte Friedman: The Jets have basically had to “hold” on to his $7.6 million cap number until they knew what he was planning to do.

Sportsnet: Byfuglien has a $7.6 million salary cap hit, with an $8 million salary this year and $6 million next year. He isn’t earning a salary this season as he’s suspended by the team and could end up in arbitration.

If Byfuglien is ruled out for this season, it would open up some money for the Jets to work with.

“If this is the way it gets finalized in the next few days, I think it allows the Jets to do some things if they want to,” Friedman said during Saturday’s Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada.

If the Blackhawks become sellers, they have some piece that would interest teams

Scott King of NBC Sports Chicago: The Western Conference wild-card race is tight. A bad stretch could see the Chicago Blackhawks become sellers. They have just under $14 million in cap space that they could take advantage of – taking on a bad contract or two along with added draft picks as a sweetener.

The Blackhawks have two pending UFA goaltenders in Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford. Lehner has said he’s not taking discounts anymore. Crawford has a modified no-trade clause and he believes he’s still a starting goalie. Lehner has played really well this season and they are likely to hold on to him and see if they are able to re-sign him.

Forward Brandon Saad is under contract for one more year and has had his name in the rumor mill.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson is the most likely player to get traded. The 27-year old pending UFA had 60 points last season. His production is down a bit this year but there will be teams that would be interested in adding a puck-moving defenseman.