If Byfuglien doesn't report by opening day, the Jets lose his cap hit until he shows up. The team granted the veteran blue-liner a leave of absence as he reportedly contemplates his future in the NHL.
The Jets still want Byfuglien to return, but they need to protect their roster and create cap flexibility until they know his intentions, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Saturday night.
Byfuglien has two years remaining on his contract with a $7.6-million cap hit. The Jets now have $23 million in projected cap space as restricted free agents Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine remain unsigned, according to CapFriendly.
The 34-year-old has led the team in average ice time in four straight seasons.