Dale Tallon and Kevin Dineen will have a large role in this decision, but the big question has already been asked. Will he stay or will he go? That’s the main question right now for University of Minnesota’s young superstar Nick Bjugstad, who is contemplating either returning for another year of schooling and college hockey, or signing a contract that will make him a professional next season. There are pros and cons to this situation from both sides and I feel like Bjugstad is physically ready for the NHL, but is he mentally?
He stated that this decision is very tough and is proud of how far the organization has come since he was drafted in 2010 in the first round. He has hinted that he would like to return to school so he can finish completing his goal of receiving a degree in Business, but he has not exactly said what he wants to do yet. We all know that Dale and Santos aren’t in any mood to pressure Bjugstad into coming in right away and they’re giving Bjugstad the opportunity to come in or go back, all his choice, which is healthy for a kid his age. Oh, for people who may not know, Bjugstad is still only 19 years old so he has plenty of time to develop. The only tempting part about Bjugstad is his frame, some list him as 6’5” others 6’6”, either way, the kids pretty big for a 19 year old sophomore in college.
If Bjugstad does decide to go back to the University of Minnesota, it certainly won’t be a decision that slows him down. Last season he was among the top forwards in the whole league, alongside with his fellow teammate and Panthers prospect Kyle Rau. Both Bjugstad and Rau are here at the developmental camp and their friendship can’t be overlooked. Both have big decisions to make and both are very talented, so I feel as if they talk about it quite a bit and both hope to be playing alongside each other for in a Florida Panther jersey, rather then a Gopher jersey (UM mascot).
The only lingering problem with him returning to college would be that he would not be playing the best competition night in and night out. Although he plays in the top college division possible, it’s still not going to be anywhere talented enough for Bjugstad to really see where he measuring up with the pros.
Now, lets say he does sign as a professional hockey player, would it be in the teams best interest to start with the actual Florida Panther team, or would it be best if he starts with the San Antonio Rampage? In my opinion, I believe it would be best if he plays with San Antonio for at least one season. The kid is only 19 years old going on 20 in a couple of weeks and to say that he is mentally ready for an NHL season would be a false statement. We all know what Bjugstad will bring to the table, but teams will be gunning for him since he is such a younger player, so I think it would be in the best interest to play for the AHL team for one season. He would get to play with some better talent and would get to travel a bit more and get into a groove on how traveling with a professional team feels like.
Either way, Bjugstad is going to be a very talented player at whatever level he will play. He is a big kid and could one day be a top center in this league. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; he has the same physical physique as Jonathan Toews. Hopefully he will meet up to Toews standards, and there is definitely a bright future for this kid.
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