Nick Bjugstad (Getty Images)
Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Florida coach Gerard Gallant said Bjugstad won’t be joining the team in Boston Saturday, and he’s questionable for the four-game road trip.
Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, and it appears the 23-year-old pivot is set to miss at least a few more contests before returning to the lineup.
The Miami Herald’s George Richards reported that Bjugstad left practice ahead of the Panthers’ Dec. 1 contest against the St. Louis Blues, returned to Florida and didn’t rejoin the team for the duration of their road swing. The Cats were back home Tuesday, but Bjugstad was still out of the lineup. Now, Bjugstad will be out indefinitely and, per Richards, coach Gerard Gallant said Bjugstad will not travel with the team to play the Bruins this coming Saturday.
"It's not short-term," Gallant said, via NHL.com. "He won't be playing [Thursday] and he won't be coming on the trip at first. I mean, I am hoping. But they haven't told me a whole lot."
If he’s not joining the team in Boston, it might be unlikely he’s available at all for Florida’s four-game road trip that goes through New York, New Jersey and Carolina before the Panthers returning to the Sunshine State for the holidays.
There is some good news, however. It’s not believed that Bjugstad suffered a concussion. He has a history with head injuries and was forced to miss five games in 2013-14 after suffering a concussion in September before the season began. This is consecutive seasons where Bjugstad has been sidelined for a significant period of time, however, as he missed 10 games and nearly three weeks in 2014-15 with a lower-body injury.
For much of the season, Bjugstad has played alongside Jonathan Huberdeau and Reilly Smith, and Bjugstad’s absence has created a shuffle in the lines that has placed Huberdeau with Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov while Smith plays on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Brandon Pirri.
With Bjugstad out, the Panthers lose one of their biggest contributors on their 12th-ranked power play. His minutes, for the most part, have been shuffled down to the veteran Jagr, and the Panthers power play has only been able to notch one goal on their last 10 attempts.
Bjugstad has seven goals and 12 points this season and was on pace to surpass his career high 24 goals and 43 points which came in the 2014-15 season. The 6-foot-6, 218-pound center was a first-round pick, 19th overall, of the Panthers in 2010.