SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad will miss at least four weeks because of a broken hand he sustained in the first period of a preseason game against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
"He hit it right in back of the net and jammed his hand," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said Thursday. "Another freak injury for him. It's nothing serious, but it's a fracture. … He can't catch a break."
Bjugstad, 24, was expected to center the Panthers' third line. Candidates to replace him include Jared McCann, acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks on May 25; Colton Sceviour, signed as a free agent from the Dallas Stars; and Swiss rookie Denis Malgin, who scored six goals in three games during the Panthers prospect tournament in Coral Springs, Florida.
Bjugstad led the Panthers in 2013-14 with 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) and in 2014-15 with 24 goals, but missed 15 games last season because of migraine headaches.
Bjugstad went from second-line center to the third line after Vincent Trocheck flourished in his absence, playing between Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith.
Bjugstad had two goals and two assists in five Stanley Cup Playoff games last season but missed Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders with an upper-body injury.
The No. 19 pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, Bjugstad has 116 points (56 goals, 60 assists) in 226 games. He signed a six-year, $24.6 million contract (average annual value $4.1 million) Dec. 31, 2014.
The Panthers have 27 players on their roster after making a series of moves Thursday that included assigning forwards Connor Brickley, Dryden Hunt and Kyle Rau to Springfield of the American Hockey League.