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Brassard, Sheahan traded to Panthers by Penguins for Bjugstad, McCann

Florida also receives three draft picks from Pittsburgh

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan were acquired by the Florida Panthers in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann on Friday. 

The Panthers also received the Penguins' second- and fourth-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, and a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft previously acquired from the Minnesota Wild.

 

[RELATED: 2018-19 NHL Trade Tracker]

 

Bjugstad and McCann debuted with the Penguins in a 5-3 win against the Ottawa Senators after arriving in Pittsburgh less than an hour before the game. Bjugstad had an assist, two shots on goal and three assists in 16:13. McCann had one shot in 10:08.

"You're walking into a locker room full of very good players," Bjugstad said. "We had our Florida Panthers bags. I don't know. You can't make it up. So it was good to get the win, most importantly. I think I'll remember that one the rest of my life."

Brassard has 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 40 games this season. The 31-year-old forward is in the final season of a five-year contract he signed with the New York Rangers on July 27, 2014, and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

He was traded to the Penguins by the Senators on Feb. 23, 2018. He had eight points (three goals, five assists) in 14 games for Pittsburgh after the trade and four points (one goal, three assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the No. 6 pick of the 2006 NHL Draft, Brassard has 443 points (171 goals, 272 assists) in 756 regular-season games with the Penguins, Senators, Rangers and Blue Jackets. He has 59 points (23 goals, 36 assists) in 90 playoff games.

Video: Taking a look at the Derick Brassard trade made today

Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, in an interview with NHL.com on Thursday, hinted Brassard could be traded. 

"To be honest, Brassard has not played up to our expectations although he's been a little bit better of late," Rutherford said. "We don't feel pressure to make a deal. I like our team. But if there is an area I'd like to address, it would be to upgrade up the middle behind [Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin]."

Sheahan has nine points (seven goals, two assists) in 49 games. The 27-year-old center was traded to the Penguins by the Detroit Red Wings for forward Scott Wilson on Oct. 21, 2017. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Selected by the Red Wings with the No. 21 pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, he has 139 points (56 goals, 83 assists) in 414 games with the Red Wings and Penguins (27-17-6), who are two points behind the first-place New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. 

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said creating future salary cap flexibility by acquiring two players on an expiring contract was a key to the trade, but not the only reason Florida did it. 

"We got two good players that can help us in the run here, that have experience and have talent and fit a need for us," Tallon said. "We've rebuffered from a draft situation for the next two seasons, which is always a helpful thing, and also we freed up a lot of space for an aggressive summer in free agency.

"It was kind of like a hat trick for us and that's what made this so appealing. You have to give a lot to get a lot, and that's what we did."

Video: Penguins trade Brassard, Sheahan to Panthers

Tallon said the Panthers (20-20-8), who are 11 points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, will wait and see before deciding to keep Brassard past the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m. ET. 

"We have a very important schedule here, a lot of home games the next three weeks," Tallon said. "The team has won three in a row prior to the break, played very well against good teams. If we continue and can get on a hot streak like we did last year, then he'll stay. But if it looks like we're going to fall out … we can't afford to fall back any more. So we've got to stay on top of it and we'll go game by game and week by week, and then we'll decide before the deadline what we're going to go. Performance will dictate what we do."

Bjugstad has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 33 games this season. The 26-year-old forward was selected by Florida in the first round (No. 19) of the 2010 NHL Draft and has 192 points (87 goals, 105 assists) in 395 regular-season games, and four points (two goals, two assists) in five playoff games. He has two seasons remaining on a six-year contract he signed Dec. 31, 2014.

Bjugstad was the second-line center against Ottawa, taking the place of Malkin, who is out until at least Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes because of an upper-body injury.

"He's just a big guy (6-foot-6, 215 pounds), strong on the puck down low," Rutherford told The Athletic. "The guy has a great shot. He really likes to shoot the puck, and we like that about him. He's strong defensively as well. He can do all the things you want a third-line center to do. Plus he's only 26. We think there remains real upside there."

McCann has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 47 games. The 22-year-old center was selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the No. 24 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft and traded to the Panthers for defenseman Erik Gudbranson on May 25, 2016. He can become a restricted free agent after next season.

Rutherford said McCann's defensive ability made him desirable.

"This is a shutdown player," he said. "You put him on a third line, in that kind of role, he can shut down other players. That's what he does best. But he can score too. He can really skate. He's such a good puck-pressure guy. And the thing about him is, he's so young. There's a ton of upside there, in our opinion. We've liked him for a long time."

McCann has 71 points (27 goals, 44 assists) in 213 games with the Canucks, Panthers and Penguins.

Bjugstad and McCann are natural centers, but one likely will shift to the wing, with Matt Cullen remaining at center on the fourth line. McCann played center against the Senators with Malkin out.

"It gives us a lot of options. That was something we spoke about before Jim made the deal," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "They're both good players. They're different players, but they're good players. We felt like they could fit into our lineup and play certain roles that could help us become a better team. They can both play the wing. They can both play center.

"I thought they had strong games tonight under difficult circumstances, coming in on two wheels at the end of the warmup."

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