Tag: Nick Bjugstad

Florida Panthers v Buffalo Sabres

With 11th overall pick, Panthers looking to add ‘one more final piece’ to the core


On paper, the Florida Panthers have all the makings of a future Stanley Cup contender.

Talented, young forwards already in the organization include Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Pirri, and Rocco Grimaldi. Meanwhile, on the back end, they’ve got a potential Norris Trophy winner in Aaron Ekblad.

For three of those players, they can thank all the losing they’ve done. The Panthers were able to draft Huberdeau with the third overall pick in 2011, Barkov second overall in 2013, and Ekblad first overall in 2014.

The Panthers also have the third overall pick from the 2010 draft in defenseman Erik Gudbranson. Even if the big, tough 23-year-old has yet to become a star, the club still considers him “one of the building blocks for our team.”

On top of all that, the Panthers have the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft, of which they’ll be the hosts.

“We view this as one of the last pieces that we’re going to acquire at the draft that could really help us get to the next level sooner rather than later,” Panthers director of scouting Scott Luce told the Sun-Sentinel earlier this week.

“We’ve got a good young corps, so we feel that with this draft we can take that final step and add one more final piece to the core that will be our core for hopefully close to the next 10 years.”

In a lot of ways, the Panthers look a lot like their state rivals from Tampa Bay did a few years ago. Remember that the Lightning were able to translate losing seasons into drafting Steven Stamkos with the first overall pick in 2008 and Victor Hedman second overall in 2009.

Obviously, there’s no guarantee the Panthers will have the same success as the Lightning, who’ve done a lot more to build a contender than just draft Stamkos and Hedman.

But Panthers fans have every right to believe a winning team is around the corner, even if most of the national focus on the franchise has been negative.

Panthers leading goalscorer Bjugstad (back surgery) ‘feeling 100 percent’


For the most part, this was a tremendous year for Nick Bjugstad, who scored a career-high 24 goals and inked a six-year, $24.6 million extension.

The only downer was the way it ended.

In late March, Bjugstad underwent season-ending back surgery, a procedure that kept him out of Florida’s playoff push and from representing Team USA at the World Hockey Championships.

Thankfully for Bjugstad and the Panthers, recovery is going well.

“Basically, I’m feeling 100 percent,” Bjugstad said this week, per the Panthers website. “I don’t feel any tingling or soreness in my back. They just have to remind me all the time that you can’t rush it, you can’t overdo it right now.

“Just trying to get back into shape which is nice. I feel like I could play a game right now, but obviously they’re not letting me get to that extent.”

The club’s first-round pick (19th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bjugstad has been rock solid for the Panthers sign becoming a regular last season, in what was his rookie campaign; the University of Minnesota product led the Panthers in points, with 38, and finished 13th in Calder voting.

This year, Bjugstad proved a quality scorer at even strength — his 17 goals put him on par with the likes of Ryan Johansen, Jeff Carter and Phil Kessel — and averaged a career-high 16:35 TOI under new head coach Gerard Gallant, while gaining invaluable experience from playing alongside veterans like captain Willie Mitchell and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, who joined the team at the trade deadline.

“Obviously a big help from the older guys, the team was a whole different dynamic, as far as leadership,” Bjugstad explained. “Who we had playing, we had a lot of winners, Stanley Cup winners on the team. It changed the whole morale and attitude of the team.

“It was good learning a lot from those older guys, they’re all really good with the younger guys. It did nothing but help me this year.”

Panthers re-sign Jagr to a one-year deal

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators

The Florida Panthers have re-signed Jaromir Jagr to a one-year contract the club announced.

In 20 games with the Panthers this season Jagr had six goals and 18 points.

“Once he got here and he saw the talent, he’s really on board and he’s really excited,” said GM Dale Tallon.

The 43-year-old had a 11 goals and 29 points in 57 games with the New Jersey Devils prior to being dealt.

Florida finished the season last in attendance averaging 11,265 a night.

“Lets change it,” he said via George Richards of the Miami Herald. “I think people started realizing… they can see it when you watch TV, it’s a different team, a different Florida Panthers. Young guys with a lot of talent and speed and they can beat anybody.

“(The fans) are going to come. It’s just a matter of time. If we play good, if we start winning, they’re going to come. I hope they come and I wish they come.”

Jagr also shed light on just how bad Nick Bjugstad’s back injury was. Bjugstad underwent successful surgery in March.

“He was sitting next to me and when he tied his skates, he was on his knees,” said Jagr. “I thought ‘what’s going on here?’ I’d never seen anything like that. Then I found out he’s injured so he couldn’t even bend, he couldn’t tie his skates, but he played through that.”

Jagr says he still enjoys the game and knows when he will step away.

“When hockey starts to be my job, I’m not going to play anymore,” he said. “It’s got to be fun for me. I’ve got to love it.”