After 19-game absence, Bjugstad ready for season debut


Florida will get a big piece of its lineup back when it hosts Philadelphia this evening.

Nick Bjugstad, who’s missed the last 19 games with a broken hand, is set to make his debut tonight and play his first meaningful action since last year’s playoff loss to the Isles.

Bjugstad, 24, was a big part of Florida’s success last season. He had 15 goals and 34 points in 67 games — averaging more than 15 minutes per night — and was one of the team’s top faceoff men.

At 6-foot-6 and 218 pounds, he’s a physical presence and looks like he’ll draw an interesting assignment tonight, centering the third line between impressive rookie Denis Malgin and winter Colton Sceviour. Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck will serve as the club’s top two centers.

For Florida, getting healthy is vital. The club is still without Jonathan Huberdeau — sidelined for 3-4 months with a lacerated Achilles — and, yesterday, lost the services of defenseman Alex Petrovic, who’s out two months with a broken ankle.