With just three weeks to go until the NHL reaches its Feb. 24 trade deadline, Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff could sorely use some financial flexibility to help increase his club’s chances of returning to the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Officially terminating Byfuglien’s contract would also allow the veteran defenseman to seek a new contract elsewhere in the NHLMORE: Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen scratched from Senators match for arriving late to practiceByfuglien is currently rehabbing from ankle surgery he underwent in October. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that he has yet to resume skating and that he is most likely waiting until the summer to make a decision regarding his future in hockey.Byfuglien’s contract keeps him tied to the Jets through the 2020-21 season. Because he filed a grievance against the team for suspending him, Winnipeg has been forced to account financially for his potential return, even when Cheveldayoff seemed to know little more about the situation than anyone else.“The first and foremost thing is Dustin Byfuglien has to decide in his mind that he wants to play,” he The Athletic on Dec. 31. “That’s the biggest hypothetical, so we can all answer those hypotheticals if that one gets answered first. He’s been off for quite a while now.” It appears the Dustin Byfuglien saga in Winnipeg is close to its conclusion.On Monday, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that Byfuglien — who has not played at all this season — and the club are working toward a mutual contract termination. That would formally end Byfuglien’s suspension from the team, which began in September when he failed to report to Winnipeg for training camp. The team suspended Byfuglien so it could be free of his $7.6 million salary, but Byfuglien and the NHLPA filed a grievance challenging the decision. Should the team successfully terminate Byfuglien’s contract, Cheveldayoff will be able to seek a larger splash at the trade deadline. Last year, Winnipeg acquired center Kevin Hayes from the Rangers and defenders Bogdan Kiselevich and Nathan Beaulieu before their playoff push. Of the three, only Beaulieu remains with the club — and coach Paul Maurice recently told reporters he doubts the team will seek to acquire a rental player again this winter.”Paying a high price for a rental, I don’t know that that makes a whole lot of sense for us,” Maurice told TSN on Friday. “If we can get a guy that can come in and play maybe more than the rest of the season, you’d think about doing that.”Tue playoffs aren’t a lock for the Jets (26-23-4, 56 points) without Byfuglien, who typically logged heavy minutes on the back end throughout his career in Winnipeg. After games on Feb. 2, the club stands three points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot and six points behind Central Division rivals Colorado and Dallas.