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Jets, Byfuglien agree to terminate his contract

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Dustin Byfuglien is officially a free agent.

The Winnipeg Jets and the veteran defenseman have resolved their dispute by terminating his contract effective immediately, the NHL and NHLPA announced Friday.

The pact would have expired following the 2020-21 season and would have paid him a base salary of $6 million during that campaign, according to CapFriendly. The deal carried a $7.6-million cap hit.

"Obviously, this was never our desired outcome or ending with Dustin," general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said, according to The Athletic's Murat Ates.

Cheveldayoff added: "As you can see, this isn't about money for Dustin. We wish him well. I look forward to the day when he comes back into the arena and we have a great night for him."

Byfuglien filed a grievance through the players' association after the Jets suspended him without pay in September for failing to report to training camp as he contemplated his future.

The 35-year-old underwent ankle surgery in October and reportedly started rehabbing it two months later while consulting with the club.

His camp argued that he suffered the injury last season but it never fully healed. However, the Jets claimed Byfuglien had passed his end-of-season physical following the 2018-19 campaign.

Byfuglien ranks third on the franchise's all-time assists list, tied for fifth in points, fifth in games played, and eighth in goals.

The imposing rearguard played eight seasons with the Jets after suiting up for one campaign with the Atlanta Thrashers before their move to Winnipeg. He was instrumental in the club's run to the Western Conference Final in 2018, racking up 16 points in 17 playoff games that spring.

The Jets landed Byfuglien in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks after he helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2010.

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