Pens F Bjugstad out for season after having spinal surgery

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins will head into whatever becomes of the NHL postseason without forward Nick Bjugstad.

The team announced Wednesday that Bjugstad underwent spinal surgery to repair a herniated disk. General manager Jim Rutherford said the surgery was necessary after Bjugstad had a “setback” while recovering from a lower-body injury suffered just before the NHL went on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The surgery ends a star-crossed season for Bjugstad, who appeared in just 13 games in his first full year with the Penguins. He missed more than three months after having surgery to repair a core muscle in November. The 27-year-old Bjugstad finished with just one goal and one assist, his worst season since making 11 appearances as a 20-year old for Florida in 2012-13.

While Bjugstad is out, All-Star forward Jake Guentzel figures to be back whenever hockey resumes. Guentzel underwent shoulder surgery on Dec. 31 after taking a hard crash into the boards immediately after scoring his 20th goal of the season.

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