USA Hockey invited Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to its evaluation camp on Monday, but American Olympic team GM David Poile admitted to the Winnipeg Free Press that the hybrid blueliner is something of an unknown commodity.
“I have to choose my words wisely. He’s a bit of a wild card,” Poile said on Tuesday. “He’s never participated in any USA Hockey tournaments. Our committee doesn’t know him as well as some of the other guys and we want to get to know him a bit. He’s a tremendous talent. The decision will come down to how he plays in October, November and December. We’ll be watching him closely.”
There are plenty of possible problems regarding Byfuglien, from rumors about his weight to questions about his defensive acumen.
Still, the 28-year-old brings the kind of size, shot and versatility that few players – let alone Americans – can offer. The team can even use him as a forward, as the Chicago Blackhawks did in their 2010 Stanley Cup run.
Byfuglien ranks among the many players whose Olympic hopes likely rest on a few months of the 2013-14 season, making him that much more captivating to watch.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)
In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.
The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.
At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.
As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.
The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.
All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.
The Los Angeles Kings announced today that they have “reached an agreement with Mike Richards to resolve the grievance filed in relation to the termination of his NHL Standard Players Contract. The terms are agreeable to all parties.”
The club said that it will not be commenting further “on the terms” of the settlement.
The NHLPA released a similar statement.
It was reported earlier in the week that a settlement was close to being reached; however, it wasn’t clear what salary-cap penalties the Kings would incur.
We’re starting to find out some details now:
How the final numbers differ from what the Kings would have incurred if they’d bought Richards out will be interesting to see. And if there are differences, how will they be justified?