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Hard To Leave For Bjugstad

Tuesday, 08.7.2012 / 9:00 AM ET / News
By Joseph Beguiristain  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Hard To Leave For Bjugstad
Nick Bjugstad skates with the puck in a game last season for University of Minnesota (University of Minnesota)

For Nick Bjugstad, the decision wasn’t easy.

Ever since the season ended for the University of Minnesota Gophers, he had to mull over the decision of whether to return for his junior season or turn pro and take a shot at making the Panthers out of training camp.

“It’s a tough [decision], especially since how the season ended last year,” Bjugstad said. “We got a lot of good players coming in at Minnesota [and] we got a lot of good players coming back so it’s a tough one. Obviously it’s a great organization and it’s been turned around.”

The forward has been a staple of the USA Under-20 team for the past couple of seasons. He credits the experience he gained from his first season playing in World Juniors in which he helped Team USA earn a bronze for his excellent season he just had for Minnesota.

“Two years ago, it was my first year in World Juniors, so I think that kind of helped me,” he said. “I had a rough start my freshman year and it gave me a little boost of confidence, we had a good tournament there; we won bronze. It just jump started me there and I kind of had some confidence because I realized it was a pretty good tournament with a lot of good players.”

That jump start has paid dividends for the Blaine, MN native. Last season, Bjugstad had better numbers for both the USA team and for Minnesota than the year prior. Bjugstad compiled 42 points (25 goals, 17 assists) in 40 games for Minnesota compared to the 20 points he had in just 29 games in his freshman season. He also had six points in six games for team USA in 2011-2012.

The Gophers lost to the eventual NCAA champion, Boston College in the Frozen Four. The heartbreak of losing while being so close to a championship as well as making the ability to earn his degree at the end of his Junior season pushed Bjugstad to stay another year in Minnesota.

"This is the right spot for me," said Bjugstad after making his decision back in mid-July. "I am going to be close to finishing my education and hopefully can accomplish the goal that I have had ever since I was little, which is winning a national championship. We are going to have a good team this year and hopefully get another chance at the national championship and make a run there. I feel I can develop here and become more of a leader on the team as well. Hopefully, I will have a good season."

You may have recognized the Bjugstad name before. Nick’s uncle, Scott played hockey for 13 seasons in numerous leagues, including an excellent career at the same school that his nephew now calls home. He played in 317 career games in the NHL and tallied 144 points.

“My uncle obviously had a great career, especially at Minnesota. He’s kind of put my name out there from the start, which is nice,” he explained. “It’s not too much pressure him being my uncle, I think it would be more pressure if it was like my dad or something.”

Bjugstad looks to his uncle for advice and tips on his game.

“My uncle is a good mentor for me and we talk quite a bit,” Bjugstad explained. “He’s always all over me saying I got to play confident. [He tells me to] think you’re the best player out there and make sure you’re confident within yourself.”

For Bjugstad, it's all about taking the right path in terms of his development as he hopes to become the player the Panthers were looking for when they selected him 19th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, a big center that can play a solid two way game but most importantly, fill the net.


1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01
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