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Florida first-rounder Bjugstad headed back to school

Jul 12, 2012, 12:17 PM EST

Nick Bjugstad

According to a release from the University of Minnesota, Florida Panthers prospect Nick Bjugstad will be playing for the Golden Gophers in 2012-13.

The 6-foot-5, 211-pound center — taken 19th overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — will return to Minnesota for his junior season, essentially eliminating the likelihood of playing for the Panthers this season

(Though, as we saw with Rangers forward Chris Kreider last season, a late season call-up isn’t out of the question.)

Bjugstad is one of the most tantalizing prospects in college hockey. Last year, as a sophomore, he was a Second Team All-American after scoring 42 points in 40 games and finishing fifth in the nation in goals (25).

Given his size and offensive skill set, the 19-year-old was thought to have a decent shot of playing in the NHL this season. Fellow 2010 selection Erik Gudbranson made his Panthers debut last season (playing 72 games) and Florida’s other first-rounder from that draft, Quinton Howden, is expected to challenge for a roster spot this year.

  1. sknut - Jul 12, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    That’s a tough call but glad he is coming back to the Gophers, hopefully they will make it back to the Frozen Four.

    I think he will be a good pro when he gets there.

  2. lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 12, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Well, that’ll make Eric Haula happy.

  3. lordfletcher - Jul 12, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    This is the best move for him. His body is NHL ready and has been but mentally, not just yet. He needs another year to polish his game and work on his overal power forward game.

  4. mclovinhockey - Jul 12, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Overall I think that’s a smart move.. If he takes his college seriously at least he will have a job after hockey if things don’t pan out. Hokey wise, I think you develop the most at those years, would rather see him in the minors than in college.

  5. scottfmullin - Jul 12, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Yeah I still feel like he should get another year in college. Putting him in a roster spot so early in his career would’ve been forcing it, in my opinion.

    • lordfletcher - Jul 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      if you had (not saying you didn’t just in general), he can look NHL ready one game, and then a ghost the next. He needs to become a dominant player each night / each shift. I guarantee you this is the best move for him. He isn’t NHL ready yet, and the AHL might not be a good fit when he is already comfotable in college. The AHL isn’t always the best place to be… I would rather send my prospects to the AHL than CHL but do to contract reasons (which I fully support) they can’t for a few years, and lets be honest, AHL play isn’t “THAT” much better than college. Both have great qualities.

      Good move on Florida’s part for letting the prospect make the decision on where to go… and Kudos for Nick not rushing to take the NHL money

      • lordfletcher - Jul 12, 2012 at 4:22 PM

        that was supposed to start,

        if you had (not saying you didn’t just in general), watched him play last year….

  6. theawesomersfranchise - Jul 12, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Florida has way too many nice prospects. Blue jacket fans should be sick to their stomach. This is how a good GM rebuilds.

    • greatminnesotasportsmind - Jul 12, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      Unless you think you can get Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Wayne Gretzky, Jarri Kurri, Paul Coffey, Dominic Hasek, and 3 1st round picks for Nash.

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