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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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
4 TBL 50 28 18 4 131 115 60
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 49 25 17 7 126 122 57
10 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
11 CAR 52 23 21 8 124 138 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 53 20 28 5 133 167 45

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 48 16 21 12 37
J. Huberdeau 51 10 27 11 37
A. Barkov 41 15 19 13 34
J. Jokinen 51 9 24 12 33
V. Trocheck 51 17 15 4 32
R. Smith 51 16 15 12 31
B. Pirri 47 10 13 -4 23
A. Ekblad 47 10 12 23 22
B. Campbell 51 4 15 17 19
N. Bjugstad 36 9 8 -3 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 23 13 4 .930 2.11
A. Montoya 8 2 1 .931 1.93

 
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