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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 ET / 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.”

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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