Dustin Byfuglien is going back up front.
The Winnipeg defenseman, who began his career as a forward, skated on the club’s top line with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little at Friday’s practice and will reprise that role tomorrow against Columbus, according to head coach Claude Noel.
“We’re trying to find ways to win,” Noel said, per the Jets’ Twitter account. “He can be a guy that can have an impact in the game.”
Byfuglien, 28, broke in with Chicago as a winger and enjoyed great success during the Cup-winning 2009-10 season, scoring 17 goals during the regular season and 11 more in 22 playoff games. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder emerged as a persistent net-front presence and quality option on the power play, where he scored 11 PPG in the regular and postseason combined.
That said, he’s enjoyed equal success as a rearguard.
Byfuglien was moved back to his natural defensive spot upon being traded to Atlanta — twice making the All Star game — but desperate times have called for desperate measures, as the Jets are on a four-game winless skid and generated just 14 shots in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to Tampa.
“I’m looking to try and get some people going offensively,” Noel said in explaining the Byfuglien move. “What I’m hoping to accomplish, not only with one line, is positive production.”
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?