Byfuglien was suspended by the team without pay when he didn't attend training camp in September. He was reportedly considering retirement but it was later revealed that the defenseman underwent ankle surgery to repair unresolved issues from an injury he suffered last season.
Jets head coach Paul Maurice said the decision was "absolutely procedural," and that Byfuglien was aware of that. Winnipeg was dealing with minimal cap room and trying to sign restricted free agents Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine.
However, Friedman reported earlier in November that Byfuglien and the Jets are likely headed to arbitration to resolve the ongoing issue.
"It's emotional, it's heated, and it's likely going to arbitration," Friedman reported. "But, from what I understand, (the Jets) feel in the exit physical at the end of last year, Dustin Byfuglien was deemed fit to play. He didn't let anyone know that he had injuries with his ankle all summer, and made it clear at the beginning of the year he was ready to retire.
"However, Byfuglien - his representatives at Octagon and I assume the players' association, too - their position is Byfuglien was hurt going into the playoffs, everybody knew that, he was playing injured, he took all summer off to heal, he went to Winnipeg because he planned to play, his ankle acted up again when he started skating, and they feel it's a legitimate hockey injury."
If Byfuglien was deemed unhealthy due to a hockey-related injury and placed on long-term injured reserve, he could collect his $8-million base salary while recovering.
Byfuglien's recovery from surgery is expected to carry into the new year. His contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
The 34-year-old led the Jets in ice time last season and recorded 31 points in 42 games.