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Byfuglien has ankle surgery while suspended by Jets

Future of veteran defenseman in Winnipeg remains unclear, GM says @NHLdotcom

Dustin Byfuglien had ankle surgery, but it's unclear what it means for his future with the Winnipeg Jets.

"Over the course of time here, he has had an ankle surgery and we are dealing with that," general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told the Jets website Thursday. "With respect to really anything else I can comment on, that is pretty much where it is at this point of time. We are in constant conversations with his agents and that is where we are at."

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported Wednesday that Byfuglien had surgery last week and will be recovering into the new year.

The defenseman was suspended by the Jets on Sept. 21 in what Winnipeg called a procedural move after he did not report to training camp eight days earlier, when the Jets announced they had granted him a personal leave of absence.

Cheveldayoff said Byfuglien remains suspended and the surgery should not be viewed as anything other than what it is.

"From our situation, nothing has really changed with the news of him having surgery," he said. "We were aware he was contemplating it. When we said we weren't directly involved, we weren't directly involved. But obviously we knew he was contemplating that."

Byfuglien has 525 points (177 goals, 348 assists) in 869 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Jets. He has 50 points (21 goals, 29 assists) in 66 Stanley Cup Playoff games and won the Cup with Chicago in 2010. The 34-year-old has one season remaining on a five-year, $38 million contract (average annual value $7.6 million) he signed with Winnipeg on Feb. 8. 2016.

Without Byfuglien, the Jets, who traded defenseman Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers and had defensemen Tyler Myers (Vancouver Canucks) and Ben Chiarot (Montreal Canadiens) leave as free agents during the offseason, are 6-7-0 heading into their game at the San Jose Sharks on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, TSN3, NHL.TV).

Cheveldayoff said he could not provide further clarity on the Byfuglien situation.

"I can't speak for anybody other than [us]," he said. "It's a complicated issue, a real complicated issue when it comes to answering any questions that you might have. I'm here to speak, but there is not really much that I can enlighten beyond what has been talked about, as it stands right now."

The Jets also sent defenseman Ville Heinola to Manitoba of the American Hockey League. The 18-year-old, who was Winnipeg's first-round pick (No. 20) in the 2019 NHL Draft, had five points (one goal, four assists) in eight NHL games this season.

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