Winnipeg Jets sign Dustin Byfuglien to 5-year contract
Defenceman to be paid an average of $7.6 million per year
The Winnipeg Jets announced Monday the team has signed Dustin Byfuglien (33) to a five-year contract extension. The defenceman's salary is valued about $7.6 million annually.
"My family and I have loved Winnipeg and we're very happy to stay here and sign this," Byfuglien told reporters Monday.
"I'm excited to be a Jet."
Byfuglien, 30, leads the Jets season in shots, penalty minutes and ice time, said an NHL news release.
The Roseau, Minnesota native has been named to the All-Star Game in each of the last four seasons.
He has recorded 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 52 games this season.
"We're excited," said Kevin Cheveldayoff, general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.
"He's an important part to this group."
Byfuglien believes in the Jets' overall vision despite the team's current position in the standings, said Cheveldayoff.
"We'll keep battling here, we're a group that's going to continue to go down the path…drafting and developing young players," he said.
Byfuglien a hockey genius, says fan
Bobby Yovic started the Facebook page "Keep Byfuglien or Else", which advocated for keeping Byfuglien on the Jets.
"I think he's a hockey genius," said Yovic.
The fan added he's not concerned about signing Byfuglien to a contract that will end when the player is well into his 30s.
"If he slows down he will learn to play the game with his brain instead of his legs," Yovic said.
Byfuglien was acquired by the Jets franchise when it was based in Atlanta through a trade with Chicago.
The trade came after Byfuglien helped the Blackhawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup.
He has 376 points (148 goals, 228 assists) and 775 penalty minutes in 649 career games with the Blackhawks and the Thrashers/Jets.
Originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the eighth round, 245th overall of the 2003 NHL draft, Byfuglien played his junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League.
Winnipeg Jets play the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis on Tuesday.
With files from the Canadian Press and CBC Sports.