Florida Panthers: Commemorating Nick Bjugstad’s Tenure as a Panther

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Nick Bjugstad #27 of the Florida Panthers looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 16, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 16: Nick Bjugstad #27 of the Florida Panthers looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on October 16, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /

With the recent trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers, Nick Bjugstad’s career as a Panther has effectively ended. This article will serve to commemorate Nick Bjugstad’s career with the Cats.

Drafted in the first round (19th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Nick Bjugstad made his Florida Panthers’ debut during the 2012-13 season.

Bjugy recorded his first career NHL goal in the finale of the 2013 NHL season, scoring on Anders Lindback of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bjugstad experienced a memorable sophomore season during the 2013-14 campaign. Big Nick registered a phenomenal offensive slash line of 16G, 22A, for 38 points, while participating in 76 regular season contests. The intimidating 6’6” forward was a productive point producer and a rising star.

The Florida Panthers and Nick Bjugstad would soon agree to a six-year extension, carrying an annual average salary of $4.1M ($24.6M in total).

Bjugy would continue to develop into a promising player, recording a solid tally of 24G, 19A, and 43 points, all while partaking in 72 games during the 2014-15 season. The 24 goals scored by Nick was essentially a career-high mark for the native of Minnesota.

Despite dealing with injuries during the 2015-16 season, Nick Bjugstad was a vital contributor to Florida’s outstanding year (franchise record of 103 points as well as a division title). In only 67 games, Bjugstad produced a satisfactory line of 15G,19A, and 34 points.

The 2016 NHL playoffs was where Big Nick truly dominated and showcased his sensational talents.

In 5 playoff contests (missed game 6 because of injury), Nick Bjugstad recorded a miraculous slash line of 2G, 2A, and 4 points, playing sensationally well on both ends of the ice throughout the series versus the New York Islanders.

However, the injury bug was ultimately the microcosm of Nick Bjugstad’s career as a Florida Panther, becoming a rather recurring theme over the past several seasons.

Bjugstad missed a grand total of 28 regular season games during the 2016-17 season. In the 54 games Bjugstad partook in, the American-born winger produced career-low numbers across the board, totaling 7G, 7A, for 14 points.

Essentially, he experienced numerous gruesome injuries, most notably a broken hand, which tremendously hindered his performance and impact on the ice throughout the course of the 2017 NHL regular season.

The broken hand and lower-body injury sustained by Big Nick during the 2017 campaign were devastating obstacles which Bjugstad simply could not overcome, quite frankly.

Despite experiencing an incredibly horrid 2017 season, Nick Bjugstad received the opportunity to represent the United States in the 2017 World Classic Event.

In 8 games for Team USA, Bjugstad produced relatively well, amassing a respectable slash line of 1G, 3A, for 4 points. The United States would place 5th in the World Classic Tournament, Bjugstad’s first and only Men’s national event.

The 2017-18 NHL season was certainly a positive bounce-back campaign for Nick Bjugstad, establishing various career-high marks such as assists (30), games played (82), and points (49).

The former University of Minnesota product participated in all 82 regular season contests (first time in his career), recording an awfully impressive statistical line of 19G, 30A, for 49 points.

Bjugstad’s near 50-point campaign almost resulted in a playoff berth for the Florida Panthers (missed by a single point).

Being placed on the first line alongside Aleksander Barkov and Evgeni Dadonov ultimately resurrected his career.

The first line of Bjugstad, Dadonov, and Barkov was considered one of the NHL’s best performing top lines during the second half of the 2017-18 season.

During the same year, Nick Bjugstad established another career mark, recording his first career NHL hat-trick against the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road.

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Ultimately, Bjugstad’s sixth season with the Florida Panthers was indubitably his greatest individual season yet.

The 2018-19 season was an opportunity for Nick Bjugstad to essentially solidify himself as a premier top-six forward in the NHL.

However, Bjugy notably underperformed and experienced the injury bug once again, unfortunately. In 32 contests with the Cats, Nick Bjugstad produced an uninspiring tally of 5G, 7A, for 12 points.

Evidently, Dale Tallon saw enough and finally pulled the trigger, shipping off the once highly promising, yet injury-riddled Nick Bjugstad to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In essence, Dale reiterated the move was absolutely necessary as a means of providing Bjugy with a new change of scenery and much-needed cap space for the 2019 NHL offseason (cleared $4.1M AAV over the next two seasons).

Overall, Nick Bjugstad’s presence will undoubtedly be missed by the Florida Panthers coaching staff, players, management, and fanbase.

On behalf of The Rat Trick, we sincerely wish Nick Bjugstad long-lasting success as well as a Stanley Cup and thank him for his seven unforgettable years as a prior member of the Florida Panthers organization.

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