Panthers prospect Bjugstad plans Saturday premiere

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Not a whole lot has gone well for the Florida Panthers this season, but getting a sneak preview of franchise players Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom must make the future seem brighter. Fans will have a chance to observe another hyped prospect in Nick Bjugstad, as he expects to debut on Saturday, according to NHL.com.

Bjugstad, 20, just saw his college career end about a week ago as Yale beat his University of Minnesota team in the NCAA tournament. Now he’s preparing to face the Washington Capitals tomorrow.

“It’s pretty wild,” Bjugstad said after practice. “A couple of years ago I never would have expected to be here. On draft day, I didn’t know how long it was going to take or what it was going to take. I’m very fortunate to be here. A lot of people helped me get here. I’m very happy.”

The 19th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft provides yet another reason why people are excited about a farm system that’s regularly been named the best in the league. GM Dale Tallon clearly seems eager to see things take shape.

“This guy is 6-6, 218, 220 pounds and he’s only 20 years old,” Tallon said. “Once he fills out and becomes a man, once [Erik] Gudbranson fills out and becomes a man, and [Quinton] Howden does the same thing, we’re going to have some size and some speed and some skill.”

And most importantly, they’ll give fans some hope.