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Bjugstad traded to Wild by Penguins for draft pick

Pittsburgh receives conditional choice in 2021 from Minnesota for forward

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Nick Bjugstad was traded to the Minnesota Wild by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

Pittsburgh receives a conditional pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

"Obviously, I realized this is a business and I'm coming in here to try to help the hockey team first and foremost," Bjugstad, a Minnesota native, said. "Obviously, it's a bonus being here in Minnesota around family and friends, but I'm here to take this seriously and obviously I've had pride with the Minnesota Wild. I've watched them growing up my whole life. I can't tell you how excited I am for the opportunity."

 

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The forward did not play this postseason because of a lower-body injury sustained March 10 against the New Jersey Devils. He had returned to the lineup March 5 after he was sidelined almost four months after having core muscle surgery in November.

"It was challenging," Bjugstad said. "Obviously as an athlete you try to do your best and take care of your body. I've always tried to take pride in that when things don't go the way you want them to, your health kind of goes south, it gets a bit frustrating. But I like to look at it it's more of a learning experience for me. I've really fine-tuned a lot of things and learned a lot of things about myself and my body throughout the process. There were some trying times. It was a long year from the standpoint of hoping to get back in the lineup, and it wasn't going that way with the injury.

"Definitely this last three, four months has been super beneficial for myself just being able to heal and not stress about having to get back sooner than later. Definitely feeling 100 percent. ... So, I definitely have confidence I can come in and play a full season here."

Bjugstad scored two points (one goal, one assist) in 13 games this season. The 28-year-old has 207 points (97 goals, 110 assists) in 439 games in eight NHL seasons with the Florida Panthers and Penguins, who acquired him in a trade on Feb. 1, 2019.

"I think he's got incredible potential," Wild general manager Bill Guerin said. "You see the size (6-foot-6, 215 pounds) and skill combination. I mean health is a huge part of professional sports. You have to stay healthy. This offseason it's our job and Nick's job to make sure he is doing what he needs to do to stay healthy because I really do believe in the skill set he has. Just being as big as he is and having the hands and the playmaking ability is something that is rare. Nick has had a couple of off years and he's going to have to work hard to get his game back to where it can be, and I'm confident that he is."

Bjugstad was named Minnesota's Mr. Hockey as a high school senior in 2010, then scored 98 points (54 goals, 44 assists) in 109 games in three seasons at the University of Minnesota. He was selected by the Panthers with the No. 19 pick of the 2010 NHL Draft.

The Penguins are retaining a portion of Bjugstad's salary for next season, after which he can become an unrestricted free agent.

Pittsburgh was eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

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