The Minnesota Wild was ruthless with the Montreal Canadiens this past season, winning the two contests between both teams; the first by a heartbreaking 6-3 score and the second, by a pitiless 3-0 mark, just a week later in November. While fans may think the battle is over and down with, think again. The two teams are reportedly entering an intense battle off the ice right on the trade market.
According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Canadiens and the Wild are both interested in acquiring Florida Panthers' Nick Bjugstad. Both teams have shown their interest and are ready to fight to accomplish the move.
If Bjugstad is indeed on the block, as believed by many NHL pundits across the league, it is indeed the right time for the Panthers to try and move him. The veteran centre tallied 19 goals – second-best in his career only to his 24 in 2014-15 – and a career-high 49 points, which have increased his trade value on the market.
The veteran forward also managed to prove this past season that he can be reliable and is not as injury prone as he once was. As noted by The Hockey Writers on their webpage, "2017-18 was the first time in Bjugstad’s five full seasons he played in all 82 games; it was his first time playing more than 76, in fact. After making the Panthers on a full-time basis in 2013-14, Bjugstad played in 76, 72, 67 and 54 games, before dressing for every game this past year."
Bjugstad’s $4.1 million per year against the cap, with three years remaining on his current deal, could be easily absorbed by both the Wild and the Habs, who could surely benefit from the addition of a large centreman. The Canadiens don't seem to have a real good plan to boost their offense down the middle and are expected to fight hard against the Wild.
Dave Pagnotta of the Fourth Period once reported the Canadiens asked about Bjugstad at the deadline but were rebuffed. They might have a better chance now in the offseason to make a deal happen.
One thing is sure is that Bjugstad's value has gone up, but his addition to either the Wild or the Habs would benefit his new team.