CORAL SPRINGS – Newly signed rookie Nick Bjugstad took part in his first pro practice Friday morning, and was on the
Bjugstad, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound, 20-year-old center who signed an entry-level contract Wednesday after three seasons at the University of Minnesota, will make his
"It will be surreal for me. I've always wanted to play in the NHL ever since I was little and it's finally happening," said Bjugstad, the 19th overall pick of 2010, after Friday's one-hour workout at Saveology.com Iceplex. He said he didn't feel nervous at his first practice, and liked the fast-pace of it.
"I thought he had a good first day," said Panthers coach Kevin Dineen. "He got a lot of information in a short time. We're looking for him just to come in and get acclimated and start taking the slow process to being a full-time every day NHLer."
Asked if that meant limited minutes for Bjugstad initially, Dineen said it remained to be seen how much ice time he'll receive.
"We don't feel the need for him to come in and feel anything other than to get adjusted to his teammates right now and start understanding the way we play," Dineen said.
What can being with the Panthers for the final 11 games of this season do for Bjugstad's future.
“I think it’s great. That’s the advantage you have, whether you’re playing in [
Added Bjugstad: "It's good to get a feel for what it's like. ...The learning process is the biggest thing for me. There's a lot of good players. It's pretty surreal to be here. I'm very fortunate to be here."
Bjugstad said he expects to have about eight to 10 family members and friends at Saturday's game, including his sister, who's flying in from the Netherlands to see his debut. While he didn't feel jitters at his first practice, it'll likely be different Saturday night.
"It's good when you get a little nervous," he said. "You're on your toes a little bit, so I'll be ready to go. I'm sure the adrenaline will be going."
Does Bjugstad feel pressure to make a strong impression these final three weeks of the season?
"You try not to think too much about that," he noted. "You've just got to focus on doing all the little things right and hopefully good things will happen."
SKILLE, SHORE READY TO PLAY
Dineen said Skille has been cleared to return to the lineup Saturday. Skille hasn't played since suffering what the team has called an upper- body injury March 23 at New Jersey.