Florida first-rounder Bjugstad headed back to school

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According to a release from the University of Minnesota, Florida Panthers prospect Nick Bjugstad will be playing for the Golden Gophers in 2012-13.

The 6-foot-5, 211-pound center — taken 19th overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft — will return to Minnesota for his junior season, essentially eliminating the likelihood of playing for the Panthers this season

(Though, as we saw with Rangers forward Chris Kreider last season, a late season call-up isn’t out of the question.)

Bjugstad is one of the most tantalizing prospects in college hockey. Last year, as a sophomore, he was a Second Team All-American after scoring 42 points in 40 games and finishing fifth in the nation in goals (25).

Given his size and offensive skill set, the 19-year-old was thought to have a decent shot of playing in the NHL this season. Fellow 2010 selection Erik Gudbranson made his Panthers debut last season (playing 72 games) and Florida’s other first-rounder from that draft, Quinton Howden, is expected to challenge for a roster spot this year.