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Panthers prospect Bjugstad plans Saturday premiere

Apr 5, 2013, 8:48 PM EDT

nickbjugstadgetty Getty Images

Not a whole lot has gone well for the Florida Panthers this season, but getting a sneak preview of franchise players Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom must make the future seem brighter. Fans will have a chance to observe another hyped prospect in Nick Bjugstad, as he expects to debut on Saturday, according to

Bjugstad, 20, just saw his college career end about a week ago as Yale beat his University of Minnesota team in the NCAA tournament. Now he’s preparing to face the Washington Capitals tomorrow.

“It’s pretty wild,” Bjugstad said after practice. “A couple of years ago I never would have expected to be here. On draft day, I didn’t know how long it was going to take or what it was going to take. I’m very fortunate to be here. A lot of people helped me get here. I’m very happy.”

The 19th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft provides yet another reason why people are excited about a farm system that’s regularly been named the best in the league. GM Dale Tallon clearly seems eager to see things take shape.

“This guy is 6-6, 218, 220 pounds and he’s only 20 years old,” Tallon said. “Once he fills out and becomes a man, once [Erik] Gudbranson fills out and becomes a man, and [Quinton] Howden does the same thing, we’re going to have some size and some speed and some skill.”

And most importantly, they’ll give fans some hope.

  1. phillyphanatic77 - Apr 5, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    Bjugstad is a hell of a prospect. No question it’s been a dismal season but, like the article says, they have a ton of blue chippers on the blueline, in goal, and up front. Panthers will be dangerous in a few years, not to mention they’ll probably have a top 3 pick in this deep draft. So add another potential star to that group.

    • withseidelinn - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      What’s the book on this guy? I’ve only seen his stats which apparently don’t do him much justice. Good/bad?

      • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        As dankpuffalot says below he has a great wrist shot. he plays a pretty solid two-way game, and once he learns to use his size completely he should be a beast. He’s similar to Martin Hanzal in Phoenix but with much better offensive upside. At worst he should develop into a steady 2nd line center, but many scouts believe he will be a dominating 1st line centerman after he adjusts to the NHL game and puts weight on.

    • sporkov - Apr 6, 2013 at 6:07 PM

      phillyphanatic77, as both a U of Minnesota alum and fan and Coyotes STH comparing Bjugstad to Martin Hanzal is pretty close. You are right, I think he has more offensive potential, but no one will be disappointed with what he brings to the table otherwise.

  2. dankpuffalot - Apr 5, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    he has a great shot from stamkos old spot on PP. He is huge but needs to be more physical. seemed to wear down a bit towards end of this season and tried to do to much 1/1 and 1/2. physical specimen so when he puts it together, yikes.

    • withseidelinn - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:43 PM

      Sounds like a baby Getzlaf maybe? Thanks for the insight guys.

      • lordfletcher - Apr 6, 2013 at 7:54 AM

        Woah!!! Do not compare him to Getz. I would say compare him to a ghost more than anything

        As a huge Gopher / Minnesota hockey fan I can tell you this. Bjugs is a B level prospect. He has an amazing range of potential but for whatever reason can NEVER play a complete game. If he can “figure it out” he can be a dominating player but the issue is, he has never been able to figure it out at the college level in the last 3 or so years and refuses to use his size as an advantage. Don’t drool over his size because he plays an under 6 foot game. I wish him nothing but the best, as I do with all of my Gophers guys but I honestly wouldn’t have high hopes. If he ends up being a productive 2nd line forward, great success!

      • withseidelinn - Apr 6, 2013 at 12:59 PM

        Haha yeah like I said I’ve never seen him play so I was just making a guess based on what the other guys said. Interesting that you said he can never put together a complete game because based on all the rave I hear about this kid, his stats aren’t anything extraordinary in NCAA. Will be interesting to see how he pans out in 2-3 years.

      • getadealdonealready - Apr 6, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        Lordfletcher has a pretty good analysis of the kid. I think he is highly regarded as an NHL prospect because of bloodlines, he can shoot, and his size. What I was disappointed most with over his gopher career was inconsistent play. Never seemed to be dominant for long periods of time. He’d have a few good shifts then disappear for long periods of time. I think he has a lot of potential, but it will depend on how hard he works the next few years.

  3. Exiled1 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    As a Blackhawks fan I urge all Panther fans to just let Tallon do his thing. He’s not the best contract/money guy but the guy can evaluate talent second to none. The Blackhawks owe as much to him for helping build a solid team as they do the current regime turning the team into a powerhouse. The future is bright in South Florida.

    • dragonblade629 - Apr 6, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      I find it hard to believe that any Panthers fans wouldn’t trust him. Two years after his overhaul we got into the Playoffs for the first time in twelve years, he clearly knows what’s right for us and we probably would be doing better if it weren’t for everyone being injured. Future is looking real good, I’d say.

  4. twesty85 - Apr 5, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    This guy comes from a premiere team and league. He gave my fighting Sioux fits for years. Also, in the WCHA you play the best competition in the most NHL-like setting around. This kid will be a huge factor for years to come.

  5. dankpuffalot - Apr 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    His assists dropped off a bit this year. He was still a top flight goal scorer but he created a lot less goals for others this year.

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