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Bjugstad Hopes To Make A Difference

Panthers first rounder Nick Bjugstad hopes that the recently finished development camp will help for a successful sophomore year at Minnesota.

Thursday, 07.21.2011 / 5:02 PM / News
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Bjugstad Hopes To Make A Difference
Nick Bjugstad skates recently in a practice at Panthers Development Camp (Glenn Odebralski)
By Andrew Imber for floridapanthers.com

With 35 prospects attending the Florida Panthers 2011 Development Camp at the Saveology.com Iceplex last week, including many first timers, nobody could be blamed for having some confusion in trying to identify the players. However, at six-foot-four, 2010 first round draft pick (19th overall) Nick Bjugstad quite literally stood out.

Smoothly skating up and down the ice, screening goaltenders with his large frame, and powering past defenders, Bjugstad gave his audience a glimpse at the future. 

“I’ve learned a lot,” Bjugstad said of his time at development camp. “There’s been a lot of input from a lot of different people. We’ve even had Micky (Ward) from ‘The Fighter’ here.

“I think this camp is important.”

Bjugstad is hoping to continue his progression after an up and down season at the University of Minnesota. After finishing high school in three years to make the jump to college quicker, and earning Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award (top high school senior hockey player in Minnesota) along the way, Bjugstad struggled early on as a freshman last season. His 29 goals in just 25 games during his senior year of high school dipped to an eight goal college freshman campaign. However, as the season progressed, so did his game.

“I had mono a couple of weeks into (college),” said Bjugstad. “That was a setback. But I adjusted in the second half. It was a confidence thing – I started telling myself I could do it and that helped. It was a good experience, and I’m hoping to come back next year and make a difference.”

In addition to a strong finish of his freshman year of college by recording 16 points (six goals) in his last 16 games, Bjugstad also enjoyed success at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York. He finished the tournament with two goals and four points, including the game winning goal against Team Sweden in the Bronze Medal Game.

“It was a great experience – one of the best of my life,” Bjugstad said of the World Juniors. “There were a lot of good guys on that team. I’d love to play in Edmonton this coming year.”

Bjugstad may get that chance, as he has been invited to Team USA’s Evaluation Camp for next year’s World Junior Championships, along with fellow Panther prospects Connor Brickley, Rocco Grimaldi and Vincent Trocheck.

While Bjugstad will be looking to improve his game for that tournament, he’ll also be looking to have a strong sophomore season at Minnesota.

“I was a lot more comfortable in the second half of the year,” said Bjugstad. “So hopefully I can keep that same feeling this coming year. I’m looking to score more goals – I didn’t produce much last year. I’m just looking to get my scoring touch back from high school.”

Although college athletes have to pay their own way to NHL developmental camps, Bjugstad enjoyed the experience, especially when it means new experiences and a chance to further his hockey skills.

“We’ve been doing some fun stuff,” said Bjugstad. “We went to the beach. We had some guys cooking steaks that had never cooked before. Some guys sat on alligators at the Everglades. That was exciting and funny.

“It’s a great organization, so it’s hard to turn down coming here.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 61 26 31 4 157 191 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 62 25 32 5 170 189 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 62 22 15 -8 37
J. Jokinen 61 6 28 -1 34
J. Huberdeau 59 9 24 2 33
A. Ekblad 62 9 23 8 32
B. Boyes 60 10 21 8 31
J. Jagr 58 11 18 -11 29
J. Hayes 53 17 10 -5 27
B. Campbell 62 3 19 3 22
A. Barkov 51 9 12 -6 21
T. Fleischmann 52 7 14 12 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .920 2.40
A. Montoya 4 6 2 .893 2.98
 
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