For a few weeks now, things have started getting interesting around the National Hockey League with all eyes on general managers as they get ready to make some moves. Most recently, the attention has been turned towards Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With the 2019 trade deadline looming, Rutherford is known to be a man of few words but one of many actions and so he did what he is best at on Monday afternoon, trading defensemen Jamie Oleksiak to the Dallas Stars for a fourth-round selection.
Of course this was only the beginning of his venture with the deadline close to the end of February and in recent weeks, the topic of conversation has been revolving around Derick Brassard.
With that in mind, Mike Kelly of The Point Hockey was first to jump on a slight indication when he reported a line-up change after practice a short while ago out in Florida.
A moment later, Kevin Weekes of NHL Network broke the news, reporting that both Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Derick Brassard alongside centreman Riley Sheahan.
This was then re-iterated by both Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports and TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, meanwhile, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reported there was more to the deal coming. He would also indicate that players involved were being informed by their respective teams with the final pieces of the puzzle starting to come together between the two sides.
Jason Mackey from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette would then add on that finishing touch, noting that joining Shehan and Brassard going to Sunrise would be a second-round pick as well as two fourth-round picks for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca was next to join in on the fun, making mention of the fact that the Panthers would be getting a fourth-round pick from the Minnesota Wild, one of the two being traded from the Penguins in exchange for the two young centreman.
As noted by Bob McKenzie, Pittsburgh had to include the picks in order to offset Brassard’s pending UFA status as well as Sheahan, both of whom Florida can still flip as rental players at the deadline.
McKenzie would then go on to say how the key in this deal for Florida is shedding salary commitments that go beyond this season which will make them more flexible to take a potential run at pending UFA’s Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.
As for the Penguins, the key for them in this agreement was turning expiring contracts into younger contract players without taking an immediate step back which would stall them from being able to build on towards the future.
As noted by Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic Toronto, the Panthers have one of two options that they could consider. One would be waiting until the first of July to go after them while option two, like McKenzie mentioned, would be to inquire about them before February 25th if it makes sense for them to do so.
LeBrun would then close in saying that it would make more sense to wait it out given that the Panthers wouldn’t have to give up assets in order to bring either of the two players aboard.
This would be followed by another report from Renaud Lavoie, this time adding on that both Brassard and Sheahan’s contracts are set to expire at the end of the season, therefore, expectation is that discussions could very well take place for both to sign extensions at one point and possibly soon.
A club announcement has been made since to officially confirm the transaction. That in mind, all players on the move today will not take part with their new teams on Friday night as the Panthers host the Predators while the Penguins host the Senators.
In starting out with Derick Brassard, the 31-year-old native of Hull, Gatineau, has scored 9 goals to go alongside 6 assists, making for 15 points registered in a total of 40 games played this season.
Brassard has been with Pittsburgh since February of 2018 when he was acquired in a three-team deal, coming over from the Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, Sheahan has been with the team since being traded from Detroit back in October of 2017.
As for his totals since joining the team, the Quebec native has scored 12 goals to go alongside 11 assists, making for 23 points registered in a total of 54 games played to date.
Brassard was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round (6th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and would later go on to make his NHL debut at the beginning the 2007-2008 regular season.
As noted by Michael Blinn of the New York Post, this trade sends Brassard to suit up with his fifth NHL team over the course of his twelve-year NHL career spanned with four NHL teams prior to today’s trade from Pittsburgh to Florida.
Blinn also notes that the veteran will have a limited time to impress the Panthers as at this time, he is nearing the conclusion of his five-year, $25 million contract which he signed back in 2014 while under Alain Vigneault with the New York Rangers.
Moving on now to centreman Riley Sheahan, the 27-year-old native of St. Catherines, Ontario, has scored 7 goals to go alongside 2 assists, making for 9 points registered in a total of 49 games played this season.
Sheahan has been with Pittsburgh since October of 2017 when he was acquired in a one-for-one deal which sent Canadian left-winger Scott Wilson to the Detroit Red Wings as the exchange piece. Wilson is currently with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
As for his totals since joining the team, the Canadian native has scored 18 goals to go alongside 23 assists, making for 41 points registered in a total of 122 games played to date.
Sheahan was originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (21st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and would later go on to make his NHL debut at the beginning the 2011-2012 regular season.
Taking a look now at one of the new acquisitions in forward Nick Bjugstad, the 26-year-old native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has scored 5 goals to go alongside 7 assists, making for 12 points registered in a total of 32 games played this season.
Bjugstad has been with Florida since he was selected by the club in the first round (19th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and would later go on to make his NHL debut at the beginning the 2012-2013 regular season.
As for his totals since joining the team, the American native has scored 87 goals to go alongside 104 assists, making for 191 points registered in a total of 394 games played to date. Bjugstad is currently signed through the 2020-2021 campaign and he carries an average annual value of $4.1 million on his contract.
Joining Bjugstad going from the Panthers to the Penguins is centreman Jared McCann. The 22-year-old native of Stratford, Ontario, has scored 8 goals to go alongside 10 assists, making for 18 points registered in a total of 46 games played this season.
McCann has been with Florida since May of 2016 when he was acquired in a four-player deal, coming over from the Vancouver Canucks. Since his acquisition, he has seen playing time mostly with the Panthers though he has also seen a stint with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League.
As for his totals since joining the team, the Canadian native has scored 18 goals to go alongside 35 assists, making for 53 points registered in a total of 143 games played to date.
McCann was originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round (24th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and would later go on to make his NHL debut at the beginning the 2015-2016 regular season.
McCann is currently signed through the 2019-2020 campaign and he carries an average annual value of $1.25 million on his contract per season.
An hour following the finalization of the deal, general manager Jim Rutherford met with the media at PPG Paints Arena where he was delighted about the trade as far as he had to be concerned with the Penguins return.
He would then go on to mention how he loves that the roster got younger and that these guys won’t be unrestricted free agents and that they can play either centre or wing.
As for Bjugstad, Rutherford would close in saying that he will start as the third line center but could shift to wing at some point if head coach Mike Sullivan sees fit. Rutherford added in his final remarks that he loves McCann in a bottom-six role while he also loves the potential he has and that he’s a former first-round pick at only 22 years of age.
Prior to Friday night’s affair at home against Ottawa, Sullivan announced that Evgeni Malkin will be out for the entirety of the weekend and has been listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
The Penguins return to action on Friday night against the Senators with puck drop scheduled to take place at 7:00pmET. The game can be seen on AT&T SportsNet while it can also be seen on TSN5, RDS and NHL.TV. The game can also be heard on 105.9 The X.
As for the Panthers, they return to action on Friday night against the Predators with puck drop scheduled to take place at 7:00pmET. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Florida while it can also be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee and NHL.TV. The game can also be heard on WQAM 560 AM.