Dustin Byfuglien is Not the Answer for Chicago Blackhawks Blue Line
By Michael Wagner
The Dustin Byfuglien saga is drawing to a close and could soon be a free agent but the Chicago Blackhawks should steer clear of a reunion with “Big Buff”.
The Blackhawks are right in between being a buyer or a seller as we near the NHL trade deadline but one player that has been kicked around as an “upgrade” for their blue line is former Hawk Dustin Byfuglien. The drama between Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets looks to be coming to an end and it appears that Byfuglien could be a free agent prior to the trade deadline.
Many Blackhawks fans have been calling for the Blackhawks to check in on Byfuglien as a possible addition to the Blackhawks blue line but this might not be the time to try to enlist his services. Byfuglien has still not started skating, as of February 3rd, and is still recovering from off-season ankle surgery.
Now could Byfuglien, in theory, gets back on the ice before the end of the season, sure but that is not the type of chance the Blackhawks and Stan Bowman are willing to take as they continue their playoff push. As someone who is a huge fan of Byfuglien’s presence on the ice and what he could bring the Blackhawks lineup, I would prefer if they would stay out of the race for his services.
So let’s say Byfuglien does resume skating and says he wants to make a comeback at the start of the 2020 season?
I would again caution the Blackhawks on going down that road. First, off they are currently waiting on the arrival of prized defensive prospect Ian Mitchell (who projects to be in the mix come training camp) as well as players like Adam Boqvist, Dennis Gilbert and Nicolas Beaudin all vying to become NHL regulars. Add Byfuglien to a mix, barring any trades, that includes Duncan Keith, Olli Maatta, Calvin de Haan, Connor Murphy, Slater Koekkoek, and potentially Brent Seabrook.
That log jam the Blackhawks already have on the back-end doesn’t look like it could accommodate a Byfuglien addition, even if they were to move out some of these names. The Blackhawks need to have their focus dead set on the future of the blue line and if trades do come it should be to allow players like Mitchell, Boqvist, Gilbert, and Beaudin to get more experience at the NHL level.
While we have seen the Blackhawks consistently retread former championship pieces this is one that the Blackhawks should look to distance themselves from. Byfuglien was a key player for the Blackhawks last decade and their focus on the next decade should be looking towards the future, not the past.