Penguins: Rutherford Deals Brassard, Sheahan to Florida for Bjugstad, McCann

The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three 2019 draft picks to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

The Friday trade immediately makes the Penguins a younger hockey club. Bjugstad is 26 and McCann is 22.

As we discussed just yesterday, it was looking more and more like Pittsburgh was in the business of moving Brassard. With the playoffs looming and Hull’s Brassard long having run out of time in the Steel City, it’s hardly surprising this trade went down.

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford stated a desire to clear cap space after trading Jamie Oleksiak back to the Dallas Stars earlier this week and it appeared that he was prepping another move. In light of that, he heaped Pittsburgh’s second and two fourth-round picks for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft into the trade with the Panthers.

The Penguins now sit with less than $500,000 in cap space.

Bjugstad won’t be a UFA until 2021-2022, while McCann is set for RFA status in 2020-2021. With UFAs Brassard and Sheahan out, Rutherford’s cleared some of his bigger contract worries out. Matt Cullen, Garrett Wilson and Chad Ruhwedel are still set for unrestricted status.

Bjugstad arrives in Pittsburgh with a dozen points in 32 games. He’s got seven years of NHL experience and should play a top-six role for the Penguins, probably with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. Bjugstad will also see time on the second power play unit.

McCann has eight goals in 46 games. It’s looking like he’ll be a third line player in Pittsburgh, a promotion from his fourth line status on the Panthers. There has been some talk about coach Mike Sullivan juggling lines to stick Kessel down on the third unit, which means McCann could see a boost in production.

Brassard, still technically listed as day-to-day with an upper body injury, should benefit from a new start in Florida. He’s got just 15 points in 40 games this season and the Panthers will possibly start him on the third line.

Sheahan, similarly, could find success in Florida. He’s been slumping this season and has just nine points in 49 games. He was consigned to Pittsburgh’s fourth line, but he’s a natural centre and it’s believed the Panthers will try him back down the middle. That could help him find his knack for scoring once more.

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