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Signing A Big Piece Of The Future

Signed to entry level deals, Bjugstad and Racine look to make jump with the center set to make NHL debut after college career.

Wednesday, 04.3.2013 / 5:50 PM ET / News
By Glenn Odebralski  - FloridaPanthers.com
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Signing A Big Piece Of The Future
Forward Nick Bjugstad (Credit: University of Minnesota Athletics)

The Florida Panthers "future" will have a new addition to the "present" come Saturday as forward Nick Bjugstad will join the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson and Jacob Markstrom when he suits up in his first NHL game as the Cats battle the Capitals.

"It is pretty exciting and surreal," said Bjugstad via phone as he prepared to make the trek from Minnesota to South Florida. "It will be really fun on Saturday."

A slow day on the trade front on trade deadline day, the Panthers instead focused on locking up some of their future pieces as they not only added Bjugstad but defenseman Jonathan Racine to the mix in the organization as they signed the duo to three-year entry level contracts.

The big story obviously centered around the Panthers new big pivot.

"This guy is 6’6” 220 lbs and he’s only 20 years old," said Tallon. "Once he fills out and becomes a man, once (Erik) Gudbranson fills out and becomes a man and (Quinton) Howden does the same, we’re going to have some size, speed and some skill.”

The big news Wednesday obviously centered around Bjugstad, who decided to leave the University of Minnesota with a year of eligibility left to turn pro. The center had returned for his junior season to chase a National title dream but it ended with a shocking overtime loss to the Yale Bulldogs in the West Regional semifinals.

"There’s eleven games left (in our season). It’s a good learning experience for him, a good learning curve and if he performs well it makes it that much easier for him in training camp next year," said Tallon. "It’s a good chance for us to evaluate him and gain some valuable experience in a shortened season."

Additional Links

Tallon Presser
Sign Bjugstad
Sign Racine
Trade Smithson
Quiet On Deadline Day

"It didn't end how I wanted it to," said Bjugstad. "But I felt this was best for my development (in making the jump)."

Bjugstad was in the top ten in the nation in goal scoring in each of the last two seasons, posting 25 (tied for fifth) in 2011-12 and 21 (tied for eighth) this season and the Panthers are excited to add his ability to the lineup.

The forward led Minnesota to three NCAA post-season appearances, including a spot in the Frozen Four semifinals in 2012 before falling to eventual champion Boston College.

Panthers fans can certainly get excited as adding Bjugstad to the lineup starting against the Capitals. His addition means that all three first rounders from the 2010 draft (Tallon's first as Florida's GM) will be in the lineup with Gudbranson (3rd), Bjugstad (19th) and Quinton Howden (25th) all sprinkled into the Cats lineup along with 2011 3rd overall pick and current NHL rookie scoring leader Jonathan Huberdeau.

"Time flies, when you’re having fun," said Tallon on the prospects of seeing all three of his 2010 first round picks in the lineup. "This is an exciting time for our franchise"

Bjugtad will join the team for his first practice Friday and he'll get quickly acclimated as he prepares to make his NHL debut.

"It has been a hectic day, but I'm packed and thankful for opportunity I'm getting," said Bjugstad.

"It’s an exciting time for our franchise. To see these young guys," said Tallon. "It’s going to take us a little more time but it’s going to be exciting for all of us."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 49 16 21 11 37
J. Huberdeau 52 10 27 10 37
A. Barkov 42 16 19 13 35
J. Jokinen 52 10 25 12 35
V. Trocheck 52 17 16 4 33
R. Smith 52 16 15 11 31
B. Pirri 48 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 48 10 12 21 22
B. Campbell 52 4 16 17 20
N. Bjugstad 37 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 5 .930 2.13
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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