2009-10: Nick Bjugstad played for Blaine High School in Minnesota. In 25 games, Bjugstad scored 29 goals with 31 and 60 PIM and was named Mr. Hockey as the top high school player in Minnesota. He played in 23 games for Team North West in the Minnesota High School Elite League prior to his high school season and scored 13 goals with eight assists in 23 games.
2010-11: Bjugstad bounced back from some early season struggles and a bout with mononucleosis to have a strong freshman season for the University of Minnesota. He also competed for the bronze medal-winning USA squad at the 2011 World Junior U-20 championship. In 29 games for the Gophers he scored 8 goals with 12 assists and was +1 with 51 PMs. Bjugstad played in all situations for the WCHA's fifth-place Gophers (16-14-6). Bjugstad played six games for Team USA at the WJC and scored 2 goals with 2 assists and was +2. Both of his goals were game-winners.
2011-12: Bjugstad emerged as a goal scorer in his sophomore season at Minnesota, leading the Gophers with 25 goals in 40 games, and skated for the USA at the 2012 U20 World Junior Championship. Seventeen of his goals were scored on the Gophers' power play and he also had 17 assists and was plus-21 with 28 penalty minutes. Minnesota finished first in the WCHA after struggling to stay above .500 a year earlier. After an upset loss to North Dakota in the WCHA semifinals, the Gophers returned the favor in the NCAA West Regional final to reach the Frozen Four. Bjugstad shared the team lead in goals for seventh-place Team USA at the WJC with Sharks' prospect Charlie Coyle; scoring 4 goals with 2 assists and finishing plus-three in six games.
2012-13: Bjugstad signed a three-year entry level contract with Florida in April 2013 following his junior year at Minnesota and made the jump directly from college hockey to the NHL. He also skated for the USA in the 2013 IIHF World Championship. Bjugstad made his debut with the Panthers in a game against Washington on April 6th and played in eleven games; scoring his first career goal (and only NHL point) in the season finale against Tampa Bay. He was -8 with 2 penalty minutes while averaging 15:13 minutes of ice time. Bjugstad led Minnesota with 21 goals and had 15 assists in 40 games. The Gophers tied St. Cloud State for first in the WCHA but suffered back-to-back losses in the WCHA semifinals and NCAA West Regional semifinal to end the year. He played ten games for the bronze medal-winning USA squad and was -2 with 2 assists.
Bjugstad is a physically dominating presence. His combination of strength and positional awareness with a hard, accurate shot makes him a force at both ends of the ice. Bjugstad plays with poise and he protects the puck exceptionally well in the offense zone by either skating out of trouble or simply shielding opponents with his arms and legs while he buys time to find an open teammate. He can be very difficult to knock off the puck and rarely loses battles along the boards.
Bjugstad made his professional debut late last season, and looks to continue to play at the NHL level in the fall. He has the skill-level to become a scoring line center who will be defensively responsible and who can play in any game situation. His puck skills will allow him to be a mainstay on the powerplay while his high level of hockey intelligence and work rate can also make him a key member of a penalty kill unit.