TRADE ALERT: The Penguins have acquired forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan and three draft picks.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 1, 2019
Full details: https://t.co/vghkgwWELO pic.twitter.com/1G8ariKXss
Before we get into analysis of the players acquired in the trade, my immediate thoughts on Jim Rutherford’s asset management and approaching this trade:
IMO, the biggest thing of the Pens trade is GMJR again flipping assets without term for assets with term— Mike Darnay (@MikeDarnay) February 1, 2019
Perron for Hagelin, Hagelin for Pearson
1st for Brassard, Brassard for Bjugstad
whether the deals end up working out, you’re making sure you aren’t losing assets for nothing
the Pens traded arguably their worst forward this year who was also on an expiring contract and a replaceable forward for 2 good forwards both on very good contracts with term...and sweetened the pot by giving up a 2nd and a 4th they just got for Oleksiak. i’ll take it all day— Mike Darnay (@MikeDarnay) February 1, 2019
the four 1st-round picks that GMJR has dealt during his tenure with the Penguins were ultimately used in acquiring:— Mike Darnay (@MikeDarnay) February 1, 2019
Nick Bjugstad/Jared McCann
flipping acquired assets for assets with further control is different than burning picks for rentals/UFAs
Without any data whatsoever to back it up, we already know that Derick Brassard was beyond underwhelming for the Penguins. Just what are they acquiring though?
McCann vs. Sheahan heads up this year. pic.twitter.com/A2u114w5K8— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) February 1, 2019
The Penguins are acquiring two very good players! Now, to look a things relatively to their time in Florida:
Bjugstad has struggled this year when in the lineup, and has been below average in terms of production. McCann has been a perfectly average forward in terms of even strength points, ice time, and points production. One would have to think that being put with above average teammates in Pittsburgh would only help both of their cases.
Both Bjugstad and McCann have been on-ice for a negative expected goal differentials, but that doesn’t seem to be anything too egregious, as most of Florida’s forwards are in the same boat.
McCann shoots from an incredibly far out distance compared to average — almost 10 feet further than average for all forwards. He has scored a few more goals than the data expects him to, but where he needs to make hay is in front of the net. Time for some lessons with one Patric Hornqvist.
Bjugstad’s shooting distance is nowhere near as far out as McCann’s and his xG data lines up fairly closely with his actual data. The key for Bjugstad is to stay healthy and to keep putting pucks on net.
The Penguins acquisitions of these players, while moving out Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan, in my opinion, increases Pittsburgh’s chances of contending for a Stanley Cup in 2019 and moving forward. Center depth for the Penguins down the middle being Crosby-Malkin-Bjugstad-McCann is closer to replicating what led to success in 2016 and 2017 than what was currently being deployed. While I don’t shame Rutherford for trying to replicate such success with Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan, it just didn’t work out, and there is nothing wrong with moving on from something that was never going to work.
All in all, the Penguins asset management here was spot on, flipping an underperforming and expiring contract with some lottery tickets for proven talent that can thrive in a better system. Jim Rutherford’s fastball still has the heat.