Bjugstad, McCann Cap ‘Surreal’ Day with Pens Win

Newly acquired forwards make it just in time as Pens top Sens 

Josh Rowntree
February 01, 2019 - 10:31 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad (27) skates with the puck against the Ottawa Senators during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 5-3.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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A bit flustered, new Penguins forward Jared McCann looked at the media assembled around his locker in a bit of a daze. 

“I haven’t seen this many cameras in I don’t know how long,” he said, before being asked about, likely, the wildest day of his professional career. 

McCann, as well as forward Nick Bjugstad, had just finished their morning skate with the Florida Panthers when they got the call that they had been traded to Pittsburgh. 

Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan were heading the other way. 

After speaking briefly with Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, Bjugstad and McCann jumped on a plane. They arrived at PPG Paints Arena around 6:50 p.m., roughly ten minutes before puck drop of Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Friday night. 

The two players got dressed, shared a Red Bull, and joined the rest of their new teammates during the national anthem. 

“It was pretty surreal, showing up at game time was interesting,” Bjugstad said. “It might have been better for us. There wasn’t much thinking. We just showed up to the rink and played.”

Bjugstad centered the Penguins’ second line, as Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an injury. McCann took over the third line center spot for the departed Brassard, who never could figure things out after being acquired last Spring. 

“This is an easy team to come in to, obviously,” Bgugstad said. “(They’re) very fun to play with. I’m definitely very excited to be a part of this team.”

“We just kind of jumped right into it,” McCann added. “We didn’t talk much. The coaches talked to us on the bench a bit, saying to just keep it simple. I feel like we did that.”

Bjugstad picked up his first assist as a Penguin, a secondary helper on the first of Bryan Rust’s two goals. McCann played just over 10 minutes, winning 7-of-11 faceoffs. 

“I thought they did a terrific job under really, really tough circumstances,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re really excited about both guys. They’re really good guys.

“I think it just gives us so much versatility with some of the combinations that we may be able to put together when we get a full compliment of our players.”

It was, without question, a chaotic for Bjugstad and McCann. But it was one that ended with them out of the hockey doldrums of Florida and into a playoff race with one of the NHL’s best teams. 

“We’ll always remember that, sitting on a plane and wondering if we’re going to make it,” Bjugstad added. “We can thank our pilots, they got us here on time.”

Hear all of what Nick Bjugstad had to say below.