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Banking On The Minnesota Kid: Panthers Select Prep Star Nick Bjugstad 19th

NickbjugLOS ANGELES -- The Panthers apparently gambled and won on Friday, trading the 15th pick to Los Angeles and coming up with high school star Nick Bjugstad at No. 19.

Bjugstad graduated early from Blaine HS in Minnesota so he could enroll in the University of Minnesota early and play for the Gophers in 2010-11.

A 6-foot-4 center, Bjugstad was Minnesota's Mr. Hockey last year.

"I'm moving on to the University of Minnesota and I'm excited about that,'' he said. "I think every kid growing up in Minnesota wants to play for the Gophers. That wasn't a tough decision for me. It should be good.''

"I met with Florida on Thursday. They are a great team, a great organization.''

"It's been kind of a whirlwind overall, a lot of stuff going on with the draft, winning Mr. Hockey. It's been a good time. I've enjoyed it.''

"Everyone who says they're not nervous, I don't know if I believe them. You hear about the projection list but you never know. You just go where you go. You can't have expectations. I'm excited going to Florida.''

"I'm going to try and do my best to improve these next couple of years and hope to turn into an NHL player.''

"Florida is big on character and they got to know me quite a bit. They wanted to know I was a good kid overall who works hard.''

"I heard about the Ballard trade, and that's tough. I'm sure the team will do just fine next year.''