Nick Bjugstad has signed with the Florida Panthers today, according to Gopher Hockey.
Bjugstad, a third-team all-WCHA player this season, scored 21 goals and added 15 assists for a total of 36 points, tied for third on the team with Zach Budish and behind Erik Haula and Kyle Rau. Fairly or not, much of this Gopher team's failure to advance beyond the first round of the NCAA tournament rests squarely on Bjugstad's shoulders. The preseason All-American did not come anywhere near those lofty expectations - likewise, this team, which was rated #1 or #2 all season long in the polls, did not live up to its potential. Bjugstad definitely leaves large skates to fill, but his tenure in the maroon and gold may be more a question of "what if" than anything else. Bjugstad will make his NHL debut this Saturday.
In other potential Gopher news, the Minnesota Wild (who own the rights to Erik Haula) have traded prospect Johan Larsson and goalie Matt Hackett for winger Jason Pominville. The Wild have a stacked farm system, which led many to speculate that they may be looking to deal Haula. Instead, perhaps they dealt a prospect from the system to make room for Haula. More as the story develops.