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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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 71 13 32 7 45
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 73 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 69 13 25 -4 38
B. Boyes 72 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 73 11 24 10 35
J. Hayes 64 18 13 -4 31
A. Barkov 63 12 17 -2 29
B. Campbell 74 3 21 1 24
B. Pirri 41 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 11 .922 2.32
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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