Florida Panthers

Panthers' Bjugstad Sets Dubious Record by Leading Team with 38 Points

Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad shoots the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 23, 2014 in Anaheim, Calif. The Ducks won 6-2. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Danny Moloshok
Bleacher Report MilestonesB/R StaffApril 15, 2014

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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