Penguins Trade Brassard to Panthers

The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded forwards Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan, a second-round pick and two fourth-round picks to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann.

This deal comes a little under a month ahead of the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline and is the second domino to fall after the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings at the end of January.

Brassard Traded Again

This marks the second consecutive season that Brassard will have been traded around the deadline was he was originally acquired by the Penguins as part of a three-way trade between the Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Ottawa Senators in 2018.

Though Brassard has always been a solid player who has been effective on both ends of the ice, he never really fit into the Penguins system the way the team had hoped. In 54 games with the team dating back to last season, Brassard would score only 12 goals and 23 points. He’d also add another goal and four points in 12 postseason games.

Pittsburgh Penguins Derick Brassard New York Islanders Robin Lehner
Pittsburgh Penguins center Derick Brassard scores on New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner (AP Photo/Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

For perspective on how Brassard never fit into the Penguins system, in the 58 games he played with the Senators last season, Brassard would score 18 goals and 38 points.

He is in the final year of his contract that carries a $5 million cap hit.

The Penguins would also acquire Sheahan last season before re-signing him in the offseason to a one-year deal worth $2.1 million. Sheahan scored seven goals and nine points in 49 games with the Penguins this season after spending the vast majority of the previous season with the Penguins as well.

Unlike Brassard, Sheahan’s success translated from his time in Detroit to his time with the Penguins as he would score 11 goals and 32 points in 73 games with the Penguins in 2017-18. Those totals are right in line with his career averages.

Riley Sheahan Penguins
Riley Sheahan, Pittsburgh Penguins, January 2, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

For the Penguins, this deal allowed them to trade expiring contracts for younger players who will remain under contract for the near future. All the while, they remain competitive and could see an improvement given Brassard’s struggles in Pittsburgh.

Panthers Clearing Cap Space for the Offseason

Though Bjustad hasn’t quite lived up to his first-round billing and has only reached the 20-plus goal mark once in his career back in 2014-15, he’s still a big-bodied center who players better than the offensive statistics suggest.

Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers
Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers Oct. 17, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Bjugstad has five goals and 12 points this season but he’s very effective at driving play for his team. He isn’t having a good season on the scoresheet but a change of scenery in Pittsburgh could do the 26-year-old some good. He’s signed to a $4.1 million cap hit through the 2020-21 season.

Jared McCann is another first-round draft pick who was selected 24th overall in 2014. It’s rare to see four players moved in a deal who were all selected in the first round of their respective drafts, but that’s the case this time around.

Similarly to his counterparts in this deal, McCann has never really turned into a star center the way the Vancouver Canucks and later the Panthers would hope for. Still, he’s been a solid player who at the very least will provide good depth for a Penguins team that doesn’t need McCann or Bjugstad to fill a top-six center role.

Jared McCann Florida Panthers
Jared McCann, Florida Panthers Oct. 17, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin firmly entrenched in the team’s top-six, McCann and Bjugstad can fill roles as bottom-six centers and even potentially playing on the wing in the middle-six if that avenue presents itself.

As Bob McKenzie reported, the key in this deal for the Panthers was to shed any sort of salary commitment beyond this season as they aim to make a run at both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky in the offseason. At the same time, they were able to collect three draft picks as a result.

McKenzie also mentioned that the Panthers could still flip Brassard and Sheahan for more assets later.