Report: Habs and Wild in trade war over 25 year old 20+ goal scorer

Forget Karlsson… this could be the most sneaky, under the radar move of the offseason!

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In his latest 31 Thoughts podcast for Sportsnet, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman tossed a new name onto the NHL trade rumor mill, reporting that the Florida Panthers have placed forward Nick Bjugstad on the trade block.

Friedman mentions in regards to the Florida Panthers moving Nick Bjugstad, they’ve looked at it, Montreal and Minnesota both were interested.

The 25 year old forward  had a career year in points last season scoring 19 goals and 49 points in 82 games. He’s hit 20+ goals once in his career before, scoring 24 goals in the 2014-15 season, proving that he can put points up on the board. In 362 career games, the 6 foot 6 inch, 220 pound native of Minneapolis, Minnesota has 82 goals and 179 points.

Bjugstad played most of the 2017-18 campaign on the wing, playing mostly alongside center Vincent Trocheck, but it’s worth mentioning that Bjugstad has played as a center in the past. He, of course, would fill a HUGE need for the Montreal Canadiens at center ice and would slot in nicely behind Jonathan Drouin as the team’s #2 center. The Habs’ top six currently consists of Drouin, Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Max Domi, Phillip Danault and Artturi Lekhonen. It’s pretty easy to see Bjugstad jumping to the top of that list, no? It’s also worth noting that Pacioretty himself has been linked to the Panthers in multiple rumor reports.

As for the Minnesota Wild, they’re already loaded up front but a Bjugstad acquisition could offer them the flexibility to move a player like Charlie Coyle of Nino Niederreiter, both of whom are players mentioned in trade rumors. Could Bjugstad slot into Mikko Koivu’s spot on the Wild’s second line? Or could he take one of the winger spots currently occupied by Niederreiter and/or Coyle? Again… a Bjugstad addition could give Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau some real options up front.

The real question, as with any trade, comes down to the asking price. The Panthers have loaded up with offence this offseason by acquiring Mike Hoffman from the Ottawa Senators by way of the San Jose Sharks and it’s expected that 2016 first round pick Henrik Borgstrom will become a permanent fixture in the team’s top six in 2018-19. Might the Panthers be looking for some help on the blue line in exchange for Bjugstad? Or, how about a solution in goal behind the aging Roberto Luongo? James Reimer has been inconsistent at best the past two seasons for the Panthers.

While we won’t know the full details of a potential Bjugstad trade until it becomes official, he’ll be an interesting player to watch as the offseason progresses.