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Jets sign Byfuglien to extension

jumpy news via flickr.com

The Winnipeg Jets announced they have signed All Star defenceman Dustin Byfuglien to a 5 year, $38 million extension after practice Monday morning. Byfuglien will receive an AAV of$7.6 million per season, making him the third highest paid defenceman in the league, behind Montreal Canadians defenceman P.K. Subban and Nashville Predators defenceman Shea Weber. Byfuglien was set to become a free agents on July 1st, but will now be sticking around Winnipeg for the next 5 seasons.

The extension comes in the midst of trade rumors surrounding the team all season. With both Byfuglien and Jets captain Andrew Ladd set to become unrestricted free agents following the season, only one of the two Jets stars was expected to return next season. Following the extension, Byfuglien looks like the one. While the new contract for doesn’t mean Ladd is done in Winnipeg, the chances of him returning look a lot less bright.

No matter what happens with Ladd, the decision to resign Byfuglien looks like a good one for the Jets. Byfuglien leads the Jets in ice time. He is also second among all defenceman in goals, having 15 on the season. He has become a staple for the teams offense, scoring 18 goals last season, and 20 the year  before. Head coach Paul Maurice called him the Jets” Everyman”, alluding to his ability to effectively play forward and defense.

Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was the assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks when both Byfuglien and Ladd were traded to what was the the Atlanta Thrashers(Now the Jets), seemed willing to trade him a second time earlier in the season, when he and Ladd were having serious talks. But things fell apart with Ladd and Cheveldayoff and the team turned their focus to Byfuglien. Talks heated up this weekend before the deal was officially announced on Monday.