In some uplifting news, USA Hockey announced today that Panthers’ rookie center Nick Bjugstad has been selected to play for the 2013 U.S. Men’s National Team at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Men’s Championship, May 3-19 in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland.
A former 19th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bjugstad is still understandably still trying to find his place at the NHL level. In 9 games this season for the Panthers, Bjugstad has yet to record a point, but has been noticeable on the defensive end – recording 12 hits and 2 blocked shots. Prior to arriving with the Panthers, Bjugstad was a star player at the University of Minnesota. While at Minnesota, Bjugstad scored 54 goals with 44 assists, earning him three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament.
No stranger to the International game, Bjugstad has already competed in two IIHF World Junior Championships. In 2011, he earned a Bronze medal while recording 4 points (2G 2A) in 6 games. The following year he again suited up for team USA, but was unable to bring home another medal.
Considering Bjugstad will only compete in 11 NHL games this season, the extra games he plays overseas could pay off dividends heading into the 2013-2014 off-season. With a more level playing field than he has seen this season with the Panthers, Bjugstad will be put in a position to grow and succeed as he plays alongside other American talents at this World Championship.
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