Power forward Nick Bjugstad’s transition to the NHL hasn’t gone smoothly.
In his first 10 games for the Florida Panthers, the 6-foot-6 Bjugstad scored no points and earned a minus-9 rating.
He was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. The Panthers signed Bjugstad after his third season at the University of Minnesota, where he scored 46 goals the in 80 games the past two seasons.
The team opted to keep him in the NHL through the end of the regular season rather than dispatch him to the AHL for seasoning.
“It's nice to get my feet wet for these games,” Bjugstad told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I didn't want to go into the training camp not knowing what to expect at this level, that's why this is a big deal.”
By letting Bjugstad burn the first year of his entry contract this spring, the Panthers are allowing him to reach restricted free agency a year earlier. He said that wasn’t a condition of his signing.
“I was just waiting it out,” Bjugstad said. “I didn't do much talking, but thankfully it worked out the way it did.”