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Penguins Trade Aftermath; What the Bjugstad Trade Means

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Penguins trade Nick Bjugstad, Jared McCann, Patric Hornqvist
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 07: Pittsburgh Penguins Center Nick Bjugstad (27) celebrates his goal with Pittsburgh Penguins Left Wing Jared McCann (19) and Pittsburgh Penguins Defenseman Justin Schultz (4) during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 7, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford found a willing partner for the second Penguins trade of the offseason, and now the Penguins have just a little bit of salary cap wiggle room.

Just a little bit.

Rutherford went the trade route, but the move wasn’t without question. The Penguins dealt Nick Bjugstad to the Minnesota Wild and held back 50% of Bjugstad’s salary ($2.05 million), which means the Penguins both saved $2.05 million this season and have $2.05 million in dead money.

In layman’s terms, the Penguins have an extra $2 million to spend but will hit an on-ice salary ceiling of $79.5 million, which is two million less than the salary cap.

The Penguins’ alternative with Bjugstad was a buyout. According to CapFriendly.com, a buyout would have afforded the Penguins an extra $3.5 million in salary-cap space this season, in exchange for $1.75 million in dead money next season.

It’s highly likely that by next season both Sam Poulin and P-O Joseph will be in the Penguins lineup and on entry-level deals, which cost less than $1 million.

Rutherford chose the trade path and to take a larger hit, but to get it over.

First, the Penguins trade does increase the probability that Patric Hornqvist can and will remain with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Now, the Penguins have about $8.9 million to spend on RFAs Tristan Jarry, Jared McCann, Dominik Simon, Sam Lafferty, and others. The first three have arbitration rights, so the Penguins aren’t in total control of the salary process.

HN has estimated, based on recent cases and contracts, Jared McCann’s value to be close to $3 million. We view Tristan Jarry in the same range, though probably a touch more expensive as an All-Star starting goalie.

For round numbers, let us assume the Penguins will spend about $6.5 million for Jarry and McCann, which leaves them with $2.4 million. Let’s put $800,000 in the piggy bank, so the Penguins have an emergency cushion in case the exterminators didn’t kill the injury bugs hiding at PPG Paints Arena.

So, the Penguins are playing with about $1.6 million. It will be tight, but that should be enough to sign Simon and Lafferty, give or take a couple hundred thousand.  

Without Bjugstad, the situation will likely force head coach Mike Sullivan to keep McCann at center. It’s not ideal for the player or team, but the sacrifice has been the name of the game since the pandemic pause.

Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese will also begin the season on LTIR, assuming the season begins on time in December. The Penguins technically have a few extra dollars while Aston-Reese recuperates. Simon also had surgery in late April and will not be ready until December or January.

The Penguins must decide if they’ll give Simon a Qualifying Offer. He’s arbitration-eligible, which is bad news, but the QO would only be $825,000, which is the good news. If Simon rejects his qualifier, the Penguins could move on and repurpose that money, too.

However, unless the Penguins and Simon part, the team will appear to have a few more dollars than they actually do because Aston-Reese and presumably Simon will be moved to LTIR. Because both players will be ready early in the season, or at the start of the season, the Penguins can’t really spend the cash which will appear to be available.

There are likely more trades coming, beyond the Penguins trade of Matt Murray, but for now, the Penguins lines look like this:

Guentzel-Crosby-Kapanen

Zucker-Malkin-Rust

Simon/Lafferty-McCann-Hornqvist

Aston-Reese–Blueger–Tanev

Of course, Poulin could elbow his way into the Penguins lineup. Surely the Penguins and Rutherford are hopeful Poulin is ready. Unfortunately, secondary exposure to COVID-19 cost Poulin most of the July training camp, but Poulin did play in two scrimmages. He didn’t dominate, but he showed well enough that PHN dished a good grade for his second performance.

Poulin’s salary would be about $894k, so the Penguins could also bank on Poulin’s arrival and cut ties with Simon, too. Anthony Angello and Thomas Di Pauli filled in well enough at the NHL level this season; they could be counted on for depth positions.

Rutherford’s deal may not have saved the Penguins the most money possible, but it did add a bit of breathing room. Perhaps just enough.

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Eric Bouchard
Eric Bouchard
11 days ago

Im looking a this team right now. I cant see HOW thos team is or can be better than the one that fail miserably this summer. Adding Kapanen to the mix doesnt make this team better. McCaan was not the right fit on that 3C postion.They didnt add size and grit and they need it a LOT to be more competitive. On Defence, JJ still on that 3rd pair. Pettersson still looks like a taller version of Maatta( Slow, soft, no mobility) DeSmith is not a upgrade too. Will Rikkola play? (at last) RUehwedel, PO Joseph ( i dont think… Read more »

Katz
Katz
11 days ago
Reply to  Eric Bouchard

Having the assets to play anyway that’s needed wins playoff games. 2nd Round loss to Washington was in part because Reaves was moved and Wilson ran wild.

Watch the Islanders. Tampa now getting frustrated and taking cheap shots.,I think they will dress Ross Johnston for game 4. And they already have Matt Martin Cizikis Clutterbuck and Anders Lee is no shrinking violet.

Penguins are an easy team to play against probably the most coveted playoff opponent.
Expect more of the same .

Hatrick Pornqvist
Hatrick Pornqvist
11 days ago
Reply to  Katz

I wholeheartedly agree that we need more balance when it comes to size and toughness and the ability to push back. Tampa added that this year and it shows in their game. Isles are definitely getting under their skin but just having the guys to do it has helped. Maroon has been going at Martin and frustrating him too. It’s been fun to watch. We can’t get out of the rest as currently constructed if we don’t address that issue. This lineup isn’t going to get past Washington, isles, bruins, etc if we have to play that way 3 times.

Vittorio DiStazio Jr
Vittorio DiStazio Jr
10 days ago

No the Pens don’t need size. Grit is fine but not size. The way the Pens can beat the Isles, Caps and other teams of that nature is not by emulating the opponent but by beating them on the scoreboard. don’t stoop the level of the Isles and Caps and TB by laying out big hits cause eventually it will cost you. The Pens are a speed team that uses the opponents physical style of play against them. I know all the response’s that will follow. All of you will continue to use the Bash your Head into a Brick… Read more »

Katz
Katz
10 days ago
Reply to  Katz

*** UPDATE

well Johnston is now in. Trotz is such a good Coach.

Ricardo58
Ricardo58
11 days ago
Reply to  Eric Bouchard

Eric, I apprentice your comments. I’m glad I’m not the only fan to think the same about Pettersson.

Jay
Jay
11 days ago
Reply to  Eric Bouchard

Move hornqvist and his hefty contract to Montreal for the rfa rights to Domi. Get a little bit tougher. He’s not the biggest or toughest guy out there, but he’d give the Pens a touch of some much needed grit. He seems done in mtl anyway.

Jay95
Jay95
10 days ago
Reply to  Jay

A trade of Hornquist for Domi would be pretty nice. But, it depends on how close the Canadians feel that are. If they believe that they’re a legit contender, Hornquist would add that veteran presence and a consistent goal scorer. But, on the flip side…he’s one of the grittier Pens soooo…you lose that aspect.

Don
Don
11 days ago

Blueger to third-line center?

James smith
11 days ago

Where does Conor Sheary fit in with the addition of Kapanen?

Katz
Katz
10 days ago
Reply to  James smith

Working at Kennywood as Howdy Doody, the height measurement for the merry go round.

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[…] Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford found a willing partner for the second Penguins trade of the offseason, and now the Penguins have just a little bit of salary cap wiggle room. Just a little bit… Read More […]

Don
Don
11 days ago

I aged with pens trading B./taking hit this year vs buyout hit next year. We need money to sign Marino next year.

Jeremy
Jeremy
11 days ago

I really hate this deal. When Bjugstad was out 3C was a HUGE hole in the lineup.

Jeremy
Jeremy
11 days ago
Reply to  Jeremy

I understand the need for cap relief. 4.1 for a 3rd line center that plays PP2, PK, and can move up the lineup is fair value

Justin
Justin
11 days ago

GMJR doesn’t plan on using that extra $2M to sign anyone. They’re going to spend it on a statute of Jack Johnson to go next to the Mario one.

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