Panthers’ Bjugstad undergoes successful back surgery, will miss remainder of regular season

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Nick Bjugstad, the leading goal scorer for the Florida Panthers, underwent successful back surgery on Friday, but will miss the remainder of the regular season, the club has announced.

In 72 games, Bjugstad, a towering 22-year-old center, scored a team-leading 24 goals. His 43 points were second on the team, behind only Jonathan Huberdeau.

In the short-term, it’s difficult news for the Panthers, who are fighting for a Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. They’re only three points back of the Ottawa Senators for the final Wild Card spot.

“After consulting with Nick and thoroughly evaluating the extent of his injury, we mutually felt it was important to have this procedure done as soon as possible,” said Panthers general manager Dale Tallon in a statement.

“Nick showed a tremendous amount of character over the past month, playing through an injury, while helping our club compete down the final stretch for a playoff spot. He will be closely monitored by our medical staff during his rehabilitation process and will be ready for the start of training camp in September.”