Penguins turn to youth, land Bjugstad, McCann from Panthers

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired forwards Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann from the Florida Panthers on Friday for forward Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan and three 2019 draft picks.

The deal gives the Penguins an influx of youth in the 26-year-old Bjugstad and the 22-year-old McCann as they make another playoff push. The Panthers, meanwhile, get some salary-cap flexibility and two expiring contracts that could help at the trade deadline.

Bjugstad has five goals and seven assists in 32 games for the Panthers this season while McCann has eight goals and 10 assists in 46 games with Florida. Bjugstad is signed through 2021 and carries a contract with an average value of $4.1 million. McCann’s deal is through 2020 and pays him an average of $1.25 million per season.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said it was difficult to part with Bjugstad and McCann.

“You’ve got to put the personal feelings aside and do what’s right for the franchise,” Tallon said. “It’s hard to do sometimes, but necessary.”

This marks the end of Pittsburgh’s experiment in attempting to make 31-year-old Brassard the team’s third-line centre. Acquired in a deal with Ottawa last season, Brassard struggled to generate much offence during his brief time with the Penguins, collecting just 12 goals in 64 games with Pittsburgh.

Sheahan, 27, brought over in a trade with Detroit early in the 2017-18 season, had 18 goals and 23 assists in 122 games with the Penguins. Brassard and Sheahan both have expiring contracts, and the Panthers — who are trying to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff hunt — may move them again before the Feb. 25 trading deadline.

“We’ll go game-by-game and week-by-week and then we’ll decide before the deadline what we’re going to do,” Tallon said.

Pittsburgh also sent a second-round pick and two fourth-round picks in the 2019 draft to Panthers to complete the deal.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press

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