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— When Nick Bjugstad was not involved in the Jason Zucker trade this past February, it caught the attention of rival executives. Bill Guerin a huge Bjugstad fan, had been coveting Bjugstad for months in talks surrounding Zucker, but Guerin who has an abundance amount of contacts in the Penguins organization, knew what others knew, something was not right with Bjugstad physically and all along teams were aware he was dealing with a back issue.

As reported here a number of times, there’s been chatter in league circles since around December that Bjugstad was trying to recover and play through a core muscle/herniated disc type issue that doctors believe was linked to the herniated disc surgery he had in 2015. Jim Rutherford said today Bjugstad had surgery this week that will rule him out for this season.

(–The Penguins later this afternoon have now provided official details, saying Bjugstad had spinal surgery for a herniated disc–)


— The organization had big expectations for Bjugstad when acquired in February 2019 and even dating back to last summer where Bjugstad was the player the Penguins got asked about most often in trade talks. The Penguins opponent, Montreal Canadians in the return to play format, tried multiple times last summer to acquire Bjugstad and there were a couple others.

This ended up being such a lost season for Bjugstad who appeared in 13 games, totaling 1 goal and 1 assist. The spinal surgery was the second herniated disc surgery Bjugstag has had in the last 62 months.

Bjugstad with one season left on his contract, carries a $4.1 million cap hit next season but here’s the kicker, he’s owed $5.25 million in salary.

Jim Rutherford talked today that Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux will continue to spend to the cap but Burkle is a business man. Just like employees being furloughed, top earning executives taking massive 40-50% paycuts, the head coach taking around what could end up being a $7[00,000 paycut when things are all said and done, per sources, there’s going be a desire to cut some player salaries when it comes to non-core players eating up unnecessary dollars.[/hide]

For now, Bjugstad is scheduled to be the 5th highest earner next season in actual cash owed behind Sidney Crosby ($9.6M), Evgeni Malkin ($9.5M ), Kris Letang ($7.25M), and Patric Hornqvist ($5.3M)


— General Managers have been told by the league there will be two exhibition games prior to the best-of-5 play-in series.


— Unlimited number of goaltenders being allow on return to play rosters will allow Casey DeSmith to be rostered. Hopefully he’ll remember his passport if the Penguins are sent to a Canadian hub city.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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