Apr 5, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Minnesota Gophers goalie Kent Patterson (35) reacts during the second period against the Boston College Eagles during the semifinals of the 2012 Frozen Four at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Cheer Up Minnesota: How Bjugstad’s Decision To Stay Will Help The Panthers


Nick Bjugstad decided to spend another year in college before joining the Florida Panthers. It was a tough decision for the kid who shined in the Panthers’ development camp and had an open door to join the organization for the 2012-13 season. Panthers fans want Bjugstad in Florida as soon as possible but there’s more good reasons for him to stay in school than go pro now.


Bjugstad is a big kid at 6-5 and nearly 200 pounds but it’s important to remember he’s still a kid. Bjugstad who just turned 20 years old will be entering his junior year at the University of Minnesota this year where he has only played one full season. He put up 42 points in 40 games for the Gophers last season but in his freshman year Bjusgstad was limited to only 29 games. Besides his one full season with the Gophers he has no other experience with a high level of play and certainly not the level that he will be expected to play at in the NHL.


Just a few months ago Bjugstad was playing with the Golden Gophers were playing in the frozen four tournament. They were eventually eliminated by Boston College. Next season Bjugstad will be one of the leaders on the ice for the Gophers. The experience will give him the opportunity to learn how to lead and also to learn how to win.


Bjugstad is an impressive player but it’s doubtful that he would find a sport in next year’s Panthers lineup. With the imminent arrival of Jonathan Huberdeau to compliment an already stacked lineup of centers, there would be too many ponies in the stable and Bjusgstad would likely be sent to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. I’m sure the Rampage wouldn’t mind if Bjugstad decided to miss a year of college but it wouldn’t help the Panthers next season.

Bjugstad is a special player and the fans have good reason to be excited about this kid. But like all good things sometimes we’re forced to wait. The Cats have a pool of prospects that are playing in either college or Canadian juniors right now. It’s an exciting time to be a Panthers fan because we get to watch all these future all-stars come of age right in our backyard.

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