The New York Islanders have a problem at second line center now that Mathew Barzal is moving up to the top line, Nick Bjugstad can fit that role rather nicely.
One of the holes left for Lou Lamoriello to fill is the second line center position now that Mathew Barzal will be moving up to the top line. As things stand right now, Brock Nelson or Anthony Beauvillier is the Isles best options for the position.
Both Beau and Nelson are better suited as wingers, so it would be wise for Lamoriello to address the need via trade before the season starts.
The Florida Panthers have been rumored to be looking to trade center/right winger Nick Bjugstad and the Isles might be smart to swoop in and make a deal for him. Last year was Bjugstad’s best year in the league.
The 25-year-old put up a career high of 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists). Most of last year, the six-foot-six Bjugstad played on the wing, but his natural position is center. He’s a big boy, which could add an interesting dynamic to the Islanders second line of speedsters.
The Panthers are looking for a controllable middle six forward or second pairing defenseman, so I have just the guy to fit the bill
The Islanders can kill two birds with one stone. They desperately need help with their middle six, and they can also trade Brock Nelson who Islander fans have wanted out the door for a while. Nelson and Bjugstad historically have similar production, and they were both former first-round picks.
This is a pretty even trade, and the Panthers can slot Nelson in on the wing where he plays better on either the second or third line. It also allows Lamoriello to hold onto the pick and potentially use it in a trade for a defenseman. It also helps that you don’t have to give up any prospects in this deal either.
Bjugstad is on the books for three more years at $4.1 million. He’s under contract for his age 26, 27 and 28 seasons before becoming a UFA. That’s also a pretty cap friendly number for a second line center that can produce in the high 40’s for points.
The Islanders new lineup could look something like this perhaps:
Lee – Barzal – Eberle
Beauvillier – Bjugstad – Bailey
Komarov – Filppula – Ho-Sang
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Leddy – Boychuk
Pelech – Pulock
Hickey – Mayfield
I’m still not sold on the defense, but this forward setup certainly looks better. I think Bjugstad’s game would go well with Beauvillier and Bailey. Both Beau and Bailey are smaller forwards with some speed while Bjugstad adds some size to that line.
Beau and Bails can create the space in the offensive zone while Bjugstad can finish in front of the net with his size. It’s a cheap move that the Islanders can make and it’s a significant upgrade from what they already have.