2:45pm: Despite the earlier report, when the Penguins announced Bjugstad’s surgery (identified as a herniated disc) his recovery timeline was listed at a minimum of just eight weeks. It seems unlikely that the 2019-20 season will be over by then, though it’s unclear what exactly would have to take place for a player to return to action after such a major injury during the restricted format.
9:59am: If the Pittsburgh Penguins return to play this summer to try and win a qualifying round, they won’t have the services of Nick Bjugstad. Josh Yohe of The Athletic reports that Bjugstad has suffered a setback in his recovery and underwent surgery yesterday. He will be out for the rest of the 2019-20 season and joins Dominik Simon on the shelf for the Penguins.
Bjugstad, 27, will end 2019-20 after playing just 13 games and registering two points. That is an absolute disaster for the Penguins after they acquired Bjugstad and Jared McCann in 2019 for a package of picks and players, hoping the big forward could solidify their top-six. Instead, the former Florida Panther has been injured almost exclusively during his time in Pittsburgh and has just 16 points in 45 games with the team.
After the Penguins acquired Jason Zucker this season to fill one of those top-six spots, the question will now become whether or not Bjugstad has played his last game in Pittsburgh. With a $4.1MM cap hit next year on the final season of his contract, he could be a piece that GM Jim Rutherford looks to move in the offseason.
In fact, with raises due for McCann and other restricted free agents the Penguins may have to shed salary just to keep the rest of the group together. Losing Bjugstad wouldn’t really hurt, since he hasn’t been there much anyway.