The Pittsburgh Penguins found some salary-cap relief from an old friend on Friday evening with the Penguins trade of center Nick Bjugstad and his $4.1 million salary to the Minnesota Wild. The Penguins received a conditional seventh-round pick.
Update: The pick is a 2021 selection.
Update 2: Per Frank Seravalli of TSN, the Penguins also held back part of Bjugstad’s salary. A high-level source with direct knowledge of the deal initially declined to specify the amount, however, it was reported the Penguins retained the NHL maximum 50%, which is $2.05 million. The seventh-round pick is transferred if Bjugstad plays in 70 games or scores 35 pts next season.
Not only is Minnesota GM Bill Guerin a former Penguins AGM and player, but Bjugstad, 28, is a Minnesota native. Bjugstad resides in Minnesota and had spinal surgery in May at the May Clinic in Minneapolis. He also played three seasons of college hockey at the University of Minnesota.
Upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, the Bjugstad laughed with PHN about having to remember how to drive in the snow after playing six-and-a-half seasons with the Florida Panthers.
In his seven-year NHL career, Nick Bjugstad has played 439 games but played only 13 games last season as a sports hernia, and apparent rehab setbacks kept him off the ice. Though the Penguins never confirmed Bjugstad suffered setbacks, he stopped skating in January after he appeared close to a return.
Bjugstad played only 45 games since the Penguins acquired him and Jared McCann as part of the Derrick Brassard trade on Feb. 1, 2019. Bjugstad scored 10 goals and six assists in that time.
The conditions of the pick, as of 8 p.m., were also not released.
The Pittsburgh Penguins trade was necessary to free salary, as the team had only $6.9 million in salary-cap space but has several restricted free agents, including goalies Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry, and forwards Jared McCann and Dominik Simon.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford and Guerin hooked up on the Penguins trade for Jason Zucker in January, too. The Bjugstad trade may clear enough space to sign McCann and keep an expensive veteran, such as Patric Hornqvist, who makes $5.3 million.
The Penguins trade could also free the Penguins and Rutherford to accept an NHL salary in return as part of the expected Matt Murray trade.
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