Forward Nick Bjugstad signed a six-year contract extension with the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Financial terms were not released, but the Miami Herald reported the average annual value to be $4.1 million.
Bjugstad, 22, leads the Panthers with 13 goals and 21 points. He also led them in scoring last season, his first full NHL season, with 38 points.
"We are very pleased to have agreed to a long-term contract with Nick," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon told the Panthers website. "He is a big, strong and skilled forward who will play an important role on our club for the next several seasons."
Bjugstad could have become a restricted free agent after the season. The extension starts next season and keeps him with the Panthers through the 2020-21 season.
"I want to be a Panther for a long time; I love it down here," Bjugstad told the website. "I wanted to get the process going; I didn't want to worry about it. … I just want to play hockey. That was the main thing; I just want to play and not worry about the logistics of money and all that. I'm just glad it's done with, and I can take a deep breath."
Bjugstad, the 19th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, is the centerpiece of an emerging core for the Panthers, who enter play Wednesday one point behind the New York Rangers for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Nick, along with Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau are all part of our club's growing nucleus of young and talented players that will lead our team to future success," Tallon said.