Trade Reaction: Nick Bjugstad Returns Home

Nick Bjugstad is coming home, it was long awaited for many Wild fans. The Minnesota native is returning home after parts of eight seasons as a member of the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Exactly seven months ago from Friday night, the Minnesota Wild sent Jason Zucker to the Penguins. Bill Guerin and his former team were not done doing business as the Wild were sent the veteran forward in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

The Penguins retained 50 percent of his contract and the conditional seventh-round pick will be sent to Pittsburgh if Bjugstad plays in 70 or more games or reaches the 35 point plateau.

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The former first-round pick dealt with adversity this season. He was limited to just 13 games in which he was goalless and recorded just two points. He had a sports hernia which required surgery, but he told reporters that he was feeling “100 percent.”

This trade was the textbook definition of a low-risk and high-reward transaction. This move likely means that Minnesota will not re-sign Alex Galchenyuk after acquiring him in February from Pittsburgh. He was joined alongside Calen Addison and a 2021 first-round selection. Bjugstad has the potential to be a real bargain for the Wild if he can reclaim the impact and production he once had earlier on in his career.

Nick Bjugstad has recorded 97 goals and 110 assists for 207 points. He’s done so in 439 games. He does have some offensive upside which was displayed in his best season in 2014-15. It was then that the 6’1 centreman hit the 20-goal and 40-point plateau’s. Likewise, he recorded 49 points in 2017-18 and didn’t miss a single game that season.

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Throughout his career thus far, he hasn’t provided much value aside from the 2017-18 campaign. During that season, he offered 1.5 wins above replacement. If he were to replicate that type of value, he would be a bargain by all means.

His career face-off win percentage is just over 49 percent which is average, but stronger than the likes of Eric Staal and Joel Eriksson Ek.

Since 2016-17, Bjugstad has maintained a corsi for percentage well over 50 percent. Likewise, since 2017, he has an average goal for percentage above 60 percent. There is definitely potential here as long as he is not thrown in a fourth-line role. Hopefully, he can be trusted and deployed like he was in Florida where he excelled before moving to Pittsburgh.

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I hope this is not a glimpse of the future. This trade was good for the Wild, but it was still a cap dump for the Penguins. Pittsburgh has now dumped Alex Galchenyuk and Nick Bjugstad on the Wild. What’s next, Jack Johnson?

All jokes aside, Guerin has now won both trades that involved the Pittsburgh Penguins and Wild. Nevertheless, these two trades are a testament to Bill Guerin’s patience and composure in the big seat. He has now made two trades, both with his former mentor and friend Jim Rutherford.

It will be interesting to see if these two friends make a third transaction between one another with Matt Murray and Jared McCann both reportedly being placed on the trade block. Likely, this is it for now between the two organizations.

(Data courtesy of Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick & Hockey-Reference)

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