Florida Panthers rookie forward Nick Bjugstad set a dubious NHL record this season, becoming the first player in league history to lead his team in points with 38 or fewer in a full 82-game season, per The Miami Herald.
The previous record holder, Scott Pellerin, scored 39 points for the expansion Minnesota Wild in 2000-01. Pellerin played just 58 games for Minnesota that season, then logged another 19 appearances for the Carolina Hurricanes following a trade.
Bjugstad played in 76 of Florida's 82 games this season, as the perennial bottom-feeders finished 29-45-8, good for 66 points and the NHL's second-worst record. Standing between the Panthers and the cellar were the woeful Buffalo Sabres, a team that finished 21-51-10 with a humiliating 52 points.
Of course, even the Sabres managed a pair of 40-point scorers, with forwards Cody Hodgson (44) and Tyler Ennis (43) both reaching that total.
The Panthers, meanwhile, had nary a 39-point scorer, but at least managed to have four players finish with 35-plus points. Doing the honors were Bjugstad (39), defenseman Brian Campbell (37), forward Scottie Upshall (37) and forward Brad Boyes (36).
Of the four, only the 21-year-old Bjugstad offers true hope for better days ahead, as the Panthers' other 35-point scorers are all middling veterans.
Bjugstad, a former first-round pick (17th overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft, had just one point in 11 NHL appearances heading into the 2013-14 season. Hopes were high for the rookie, but he wasn't quite an elite prospect, and certainly wasn't expected to lead the team in points.
Of the Panthers' young forwards, former No. 3 overall pick (2011) Jonathan Huberdeau was subject to the highest expectations and entered 2013-14 as the favorite to lead Florida in points. Sixty-nine appearances and 28 points later, the 20-year-old Huberdeau has seen his stock fall quite a bit, though there's still more than enough time to undo the damage.
Assuming Huberdeau gets back on track, the Panthers could soon have a trio of formidable young forwards in Bjugstad, Huberdeau and 2013 No. 2 overall draft pick Aleksander Barkov.
Better days may still be years away, but the 2014-15 Panthers should at least have multiple candidates to crack the 50-point barrier after setting an embarrassing record in 2013-14.
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