Originally posted on Fox - The Hockey Guy  |  Last updated 2/25/14

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Nick Bjugstad, drafted 19th by the Florida Panthers, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Life was already tough for the Florida Panthers. They staggered through this season as one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments. They fell out of the Eastern Conference playoff race in a hurry. New ownership complained that the franchise is losing staggering sums of money, casting doubt about its viability in South Florida. Then forwards Aleksander Barkov (knee) and Tomas Kopecky (concussion) suffered injuries at the Olympics.So the Panthers will sell off a few veterans before the trade deadline and take longer looks at more young players. One of them, rookie center Nick Bjugstad, will assume a bigger role because of the injuries.He is playing center on the top line between Brad Boyes (one of the team’s top trade chips) and Sean Bergenheim.“He's done a good job so that's a natural progression for him, so we'll see,” coach Peter Horachek told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Having depth in the middle is important. We got some with Bjugstad, [Scott] Gomez, [Marcel] Goc, [Shawn] Matthias a
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