Despite the constant injuries that Nick faces, he is still an important piece to the team. Nevertheless, the Florida Panthers should keep big Nick.
Bjugstad faced yet another season with injuries. Injuries have always been Nick’s issue throughout his career thus far. Unfortunately, these setbacks that he’s faced have really prevented him from playing his game. His game, that would be driving hard to the net while causing trouble down in the offensive zone against his opponents. This is the type of Nick we need back.
Last couple of seasons for Bjugstad have been rough. He just can’t seem to stay away from the injury bug. Last year in pre-season, big Nick broke his hand when driving to the net. In result, he missed a good month of hockey. This was the last thing he needed happening. Thankfully though, last season is finished and he can look to move on.
In regards to the 2016-17 season, Nick only played 54 games. In those 54 games, he put up 7G, 7A, and 14P all together. Not good at all, considering how much we expect out of him. Apart from his regular stats, his advanced statistics were even worse.
Firstly, Bjugstad finished the year with a CF% (Corsi For %) of 45.79%. Rule of thumb, if it’s under 50% it’s not a good number to have. Especially since were talking about Nick and not a 4th liner. Secondly, the difference between his CF60 (Corsi For Per 60 Minutes) and his CA60 (Corsi Against) was a pretty large gap. Nick’s CF60 was 51.5 while his CA60 was 60.97. You never want to see a gap this large. So, what does this mean? This means that per 60 minutes of play while Nick was on the ice, he was outshot more than he and his line mates out shot their opponent. We can safely say that Nick and his line mates were often outplayed in their own zone.
Thirdly and lastly towards this topic, I wanted to take a look at Bjugstad’s xGF60 and his xGA60. For those of you who don’t know, xGF60 stands for expected goals for per 60 minutes, while xGA60 stands for expected goals against per 60 minutes. Nick’s xGF60 was 2.23 while his xGA60 was 3.18. When you look at the two figures, you’ll see that his xGA60 was higher than his xGF60. That’s not good. This means that per 60 minutes of play, Nick and his line mates are giving up more goals against than scoring more goals for.
Another factor we must take into consideration is who he played with. A good chunk of the year Nick was on a line with forward Paul Thompson. For those of you who don’t know who Thompson is, he really isn’t anything special. Matter of fact, he doesn’t cut it on the NHL level either, spending most of his career down in the AHL. One issue Nick has faced is having talented line mates. Being on a line with Thompson proved to be a disaster. Nick didn’t score one goal while playing with Paul by his side.
Thankfully, we have Marchessault who can possibly bring the best out of Bjugstad. No matter who Marchy played with last season, he seemed to bring the best out on everyone. Including himself. Nick needs someone who can re-install some confidence back into his game. Playing with a guy like Jonathan can certainly do that, and can also help strengthen our 3rd line as well.
Overall, despite the tough season Nick has recently faced, we should still hang on to him. At just 24 years of age, big Nick is still young and has a lot let to prove. Moving forward, it will help if he’s on a line with Marchessault along with adding another winger, in case Vanek does not re-sign. If Bjugstad can avoid the injury bug and grab some goals to start the season next year, then teams better watch out as big Nick will be back at full force.