Everyone look away from basketball for a second, we have a hockey trade!
Try to contain your excitement. While this deal is unlikely to inspire strong feelings in, well, anyone, since every player involved is just kind of fair-to-middling right now, this is really a trade made by both teams with an eye to the future. (Notwithstanding the fact that some Penguins third-liner is gonna have like 10 goals through two playoff rounds, because that’s what always happens, and sure, why not, it could be one of the guys they’re getting here.)
This is two forwards for two forwards, and Pittsburgh is getting younger here, but also maybe better—Brassard, a good player, had inexplicably been miserable for them, and there’s a chance McCann might have the highest upside of any player in the deal. Think of it as one of those relatively minor moves that must be constantly made to rebuild on the fly, since you can’t do a full rebuild while your championship window is open. The Penguins have excelled at these over the years.
This also offers the Penguins slightly more cost certainty for the next couple of years. McCann is signed through 2020 and Bjugstad through 2021, while both Brassard and Sheahan are pending free agents.
That’s also the key to the deal for the Panthers, who aren’t in the playoff race but who would love to clear their cap decks for a major free-agent splash this summer—or even potentially a deadline trade for one of Columbus’s two disgruntled free-agents-to-be, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. Add in the draft picks (which the Penguins reportedly had to include to make the math work), and it’s a fine deal for Florida. And, for their purposes, a fine deal for Pittsburgh too. I wish I had sexier analysis to offer.