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2018-19 Penguins’ Season In Review: Nick Bjugstad

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Our season review series continues on with one of the fresher faces of the Penguins — our giant Minnesota boy, Nick Bjugstad.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Vitals

Player: Nick Bjugstad (Affectionately known as Jugs)

Born: July 17, 1992 (26-years-old)

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 215 pounds

Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Shoots: Right

Draft: 2010 Florida, 1st Round, 19th Pick (19th Overall)

2018-19 Statistics: 64 games played, 14 goals, 12 assists, 26 points

Contract Status: After being packaged with fellow Florida teammate Jared McCann and some draft picks in a deal that sent Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan to the Panthers, the remainder of the 2018-19 season (32 games, to be exact) was Bjugstad’s first of two potential years with Pittsburgh. The Minny native is under contract through 2020-2021 at a convenient salary cap hit of $4.1 million per season.

This past season marks the seventh year in the league for Bjugstad at age 26, and it was one that featured a massive (and albeit fast-happening) move from the Sunrise, Florida to the Steel City. After scurrying through the tunnels of PPG Paints Arena fresh from a quick flight up north, and after chugging a Red Bull alongside McCann in the Penguins’ locker room before joining their new teammates for the first time on the bench of a home game, things really started to settle down and click for Bjugstad.

On paper, Jugs was having a bit of a down year in terms of production with the Panthers during the first half. But as soon as he was shipped to Pittsburgh, he settled comfortably into a decent (but not outstanding) offensive contributor role on the score sheet in the second half of the season, netting 14 goals and 12 assists in total — good for 26 total points. Of those 26 points, 14 were tallied in Pittsburgh (nine goals, five assists) on the third line. His time on ice average dropped a clip, but it’s mainly due to playing in fewer games and being deployed in a bottom-six role once joining the Penguins.

Advanced Stats History & 2018-19 Season

Season Team GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% SF SA SF% GF GA GF% SCF SCA SCF% HDCF HDCA HDCF% HDGF HDGA HDGF% MDCF MDCA MDCF% MDGF MDGA MDGF% LDCF LDCA LDCF% LDGF LDGA LDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV% PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu. Zone Faceoffs Def. Zone Faceoffs Off. Zone Faceoff %
Season Team GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% SF SA SF% GF GA GF% SCF SCA SCF% HDCF HDCA HDCF% HDGF HDGA HDGF% MDCF MDCA MDCF% MDGF MDGA MDGF% LDCF LDCA LDCF% LDGF LDGA LDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV% PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu. Zone Faceoffs Def. Zone Faceoffs Off. Zone Faceoff %
20122013 FLA 11 154.58333333333 105 135 43.75 73 113 39.25 55 83 39.86 2 9 18.18 46 78 37.10 20 34 37.04 1 7 12.50 26 44 37.14 0 1 0.00 49 49 50.00 1 1 50.00 3.64 89.16 0.928 28 42 23 106 54.90 42 54 32 56.76
20132014 FLA 76 996.6 949 918 50.83 730 698 51.12 541 526 50.70 43 49 46.74 455 427 51.59 185 181 50.55 25 25 50.00 270 246 52.33 9 12 42.86 439 432 50.40 8 12 40.00 7.95 90.68 0.986 196 270 148 779 56.98 316 381 280 53.02
20142015 FLA 72 928.13333333333 846 834 50.36 651 630 50.82 506 453 52.76 36 36 50.00 402 363 52.55 152 144 51.35 17 17 50.00 250 219 53.30 14 12 53.85 375 400 48.39 5 7 41.67 7.11 92.05 0.992 123 196 110 716 52.79 319 333 285 52.81
20152016 FLA 67 822.48333333333 699 718 49.33 554 566 49.46 401 408 49.57 29 36 44.62 339 329 50.75 139 133 51.10 12 20 37.50 200 196 50.51 13 8 61.90 315 334 48.54 4 8 33.33 7.23 91.18 0.984 92 188 117 642 44.02 217 310 269 44.65
20162017 FLA 54 609.18333333333 511 605 45.79 397 488 44.86 286 371 43.53 14 29 32.56 211 285 42.54 87 130 40.09 8 19 29.63 124 155 44.44 2 3 40.00 253 272 48.19 4 7 36.36 4.90 92.18 0.971 117 140 66 489 63.93 195 193 162 54.62
20172018 FLA 82 1080.1333333333 1130 1047 51.91 889 801 52.60 635 602 51.33 57 48 54.29 538 462 53.80 219 202 52.02 26 31 45.61 319 260 55.09 17 11 60.71 505 467 51.95 13 6 68.42 8.98 92.03 1.010 194 292 178 788 52.15 320 422 368 46.51
20182019 FLA 32 392.5 380 358 51.49 291 280 50.96 224 211 51.49 15 12 55.56 162 172 48.50 70 72 49.30 11 9 55.00 92 100 47.92 2 1 66.67 179 155 53.59 2 2 50.00 6.70 94.31 1.010 77 122 64 285 54.61 128 169 144 47.06
20182019 PIT 32 442.35 455 417 52.18 346 320 51.95 264 240 52.38 14 10 58.33 224 178 55.72 91 61 59.87 6 8 42.86 133 117 53.20 5 1 83.33 184 206 47.18 3 1 75.00 5.30 95.83 1.011 70 80 74 368 48.61 125 121 132 48.64
via Natural Stat Trick

It comes as no surprise that Bjugstad carried such sparkling possession numbers in his half-year stint in Pittsburgh, as he dominated in that department thanks to the excellent efforts of the Hornqvist-Bjugstad-Simon line that was put together towards the end of the regular season. He carried impressive Corsi metrics, and even went as far as reaching a new career-high Corsi For percentage of 52.18 percent during his 32 games with the Penguins. He also put up excellent numbers in the Scoring Chances For, Goals For, and High-Danger Chances For percentages — all of which were well-above the 50th percentile and even nearly eclipsed the 60th.

An excerpt of evidence that Bjugstad would bring in these traits comes from our scouting report of the Jugs/McCann trade written back in the beginning of February:

Bjugstad has put up incredible puck possession numbers in his career (especially in transition and in one-on-one situations due to his ability to turn on the jets and use his long reach), dabbling in the 77th percentile in controlled zone entries and the 85th percentile in controlled zone exits. He also boasts a lot of potential inside the attacking zone and will likely create even more offense with more talented players around him than in Florida, especially when it comes to shot contributions. His wrist shot is powerful, but he often just hits opposing goalies in the logo rather than picking good spots. It’s likely the Bjugstad has underachieved in Florida, but that a change of scenery could really do him good, as we’ll note later on.

Monthly Split

(via Yahoo!)

As seen from Bjugstad’s monthly splits, it’s obvious that a change of scenery from the lowly Panthers to a playoff-calibre team like the Penguins did a lot of good for him in the offensive department. After the trade (which happened at the end of January), Bjugstad’s points-per-game numbers saw an immediate spike. Much of that could be due to the fact that he did play in more games in those months after the trade, but the month of March was extremely profitable for him. Being placed on a team that knows how to win and has the pieces to do it changes everything though, as shown by his numbers in November in Florida vs. February and March in Pittsburgh.

Individual Playoff Statistics 2018-19

Season Team GP TOI Goals Total Assists First Assists Second Assists Total Points IPP Shots S% ixG iCF iFF iSCF iHDCF Rebounds Created PIM Total Penalties Minor Major Misconduct Penalties Drawn Giveaways Takeaways Hits Hits Taken Shots Blocked Faceoffs Won Faceoffs Lost Faceoffs %
Season Team GP TOI Goals Total Assists First Assists Second Assists Total Points IPP Shots S% ixG iCF iFF iSCF iHDCF Rebounds Created PIM Total Penalties Minor Major Misconduct Penalties Drawn Giveaways Takeaways Hits Hits Taken Shots Blocked Faceoffs Won Faceoffs Lost Faceoffs %
20152016 FLA 5 84.45 2 2 1 1 4 66.67 18 11.11 1.77 26 24 21 6 3 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 4 14 7 1 39 45 46.43
20182019 PIT 4 46.966666666667 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 9 0.00 0.4 12 10 6 2 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 1 16 7 0 16 19 45.71

On-Ice Playoff Statistics 2018-19

Season Team GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% SF SA SF% GF GA GF% SCF SCA SCF% HDCF HDCA HDCF% HDGF HDGA HDGF% MDCF MDCA MDCF% MDGF MDGA MDGF% LDCF LDCA LDCF% LDGF LDGA LDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV% PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu. Zone Faceoffs Def. Zone Faceoffs Off. Zone Faceoff %
Season Team GP TOI CF CA CF% FF FA FF% SF SA SF% GF GA GF% SCF SCA SCF% HDCF HDCA HDCF% HDGF HDGA HDGF% MDCF MDCA MDCF% MDGF MDGA MDGF% LDCF LDCA LDCF% LDGF LDGA LDGF% On-Ice SH% On-Ice SV% PDO Off. Zone Starts Neu. Zone Starts Def. Zone Starts On The Fly Starts Off. Zone Start % Off. Zone Faceoffs Neu. Zone Faceoffs Def. Zone Faceoffs Off. Zone Faceoff %
20152016 FLA 5 84.45 93 64 59.24 68 51 57.14 47 36 56.63 6 0 100.00 51 30 62.96 20 13 60.61 4 0 100.00 31 17 64.58 2 0 100.00 38 23 62.30 0 0 - 12.77 100.00 1.128 15 15 13 64 53.57 29 32 29 50.00
20182019 PIT 4 46.966666666667 62 42 59.62 46 33 58.23 34 22 60.71 1 3 25.00 30 31 49.18 6 14 30.00 0 3 0.00 24 17 58.54 1 0 100.00 28 10 73.68 0 0 - 2.94 86.36 0.893 11 12 2 36 84.62 15 16 8 65.22

Prior to playing for the Penguins, Bjugstad never participated in a lot of hockey after the NHL’s 82-game regular season slate in Florida — he only played in five total postseason games before coming to Pittsburgh, and the Penguins laid a massive egg against the Islanders this season, so there isn’t much to work with from the score sheets.

That being said, Bjugstad’s advanced statistics during the Penguins’ tiny playoff window were brilliant. His 59.62 Corsi For percentage against a tough, defensive club is an impressive feat, and even though he didn't make it onto the score sheet, he and his line were effective when deployed.

Charts (via HockeyViz)

Overall Role & General Data

Career Primary Points-Per-Hour & Ice Time

Over Bjugstad’s seven-year career, he’s been mostly consistent in stringing together games played. He did play in only 64 games this season, which is where you’ll notice a small chunk of his black line missing in the above chart.

Usage

According to Bjugstad’s usage chart in Pittsburgh, he was most often seen playing alongside Simon and Hornqvist on the Penguins’ third line (as mentioned above), but in his first grouping of games, Jugs saw a decent amount of time with Phil Kessel and on the second line with Evgeni Malkin as well. It’s nice to see how much confidence the coaching staff has in Bjugstad to move up and down the lineup and fit in comfortably.

It’s also nice to see how much success he had in shooting metrics at even-strength despite the fact that he was more often being deployed for defensive zone starts.

Shot Rates

As for his shot rate heat maps, Bjugstad was very successful with landing pucks on net and racking in shots on goal. As a right-handed forward, it’s interesting to note how often he’d take shots from the left side of the ice and how far up to the blue line his hot spots stretch. He’d often tee up shots at the left point. At the right circle, Jugs’ hot spots are more centralized and focused.

Bjugstad’s isolation of opposing defenders in his own zone is a little erratic, but he does keep opponents away from the net-front areas decently well. However, a more focused approach at limiting the bad guys from taking shots from the slot, left circle, and points should be a point of emphasis going into next season.

Ideal 2019-20

Because Jugs will be 27 at the start of next season, it’s evident he’s either entering his “prime” or currently in it. With his decent contribution in a third-line role, and at his cheap cap hit, he’ll be a nice asset to have as the Penguins continue to find answers and re-build around Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in hopes of winning another Cup before they retire.

Discussion

Bjugstad should be positively credited for his solid half-year stint with the Penguins, especially towards end of the regular season, but it’s still difficult to see where the 6-foot-6 forward fits in on this roster long-term given the position he plays at right-wing and the road block of guys already fit to play that position also on the team.

However, he truly found his place as a consistent threat to score and dominated possession when paired up with the right teammates for whom he jelled the best with. He generates scoring chances when he’s out on the ice, he knows how and when to put the puck into high-danger areas, and his offensive vs. defensive differentials were shining bright before the Penguins’ unfortunate end in the playoffs. As long as he stays in Pittsburgh, it’s safe to say he’ll be a nice complement to the top half of the lineup — whomever they may be come October.

Poll

Poll

Grade Nick Bjugstad’s 2018-19 Season

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A
    (42 votes)
  • 73%
    B
    (347 votes)
  • 16%
    C
    (77 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (0 votes)
469 votes total Vote Now