Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford continued his early offseason tinkering on Friday night by trading veteran forward Nick Bjugstad to the Minnesota Wild for a conditional 2021 seventh-round draft pick.
The condition on the pick is dependent on the number of games that Bjugstad plays next season for the Wild.
The Penguins are also retaining half of Bjugstad’s salary as part of the trade according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
He is entering the final year of his current deal that carries a salary cap hit of $4.1 million.
Bjugstad played parts of two seasons with the Penguins but was limited to just 13 games this past season due to injury. He scored one goal with one assist in those games.
For the Penguins, the name of the game here is simply shedding salary and creating salary cap space. It was something they were going to need to do this season anyway, even before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season, kept fans out of the building, and reduced revenue. They will still probably need to shed more salary in order to re-sign their current restricted free agents and make other improvements to the team.
The biggest decisions they have to make this offseason revolve around their goalie situation where both Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents.
This is already the Penguins’ second trade of the offseason after previously acquiring Kasperi Kapanen from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
As for the Wild, this is a relatively low-risk move that could have a decent reward if things go well for Bjugstad and he is able to bounce back. It is not exactly a small salary cap commitment, but the Penguins retaining half of the salary certainly helps in that regard and the asset cost (a conditional seventh-round pick next year) is insignificant.
It is also worth noting that Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin spent several years working as an assistant to Rutherford with the Penguins, so it is not a huge surprise that the two would come together for a deal like this.
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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.