High school forward Nick Bjugstad sits 28th on my NHL Draft list. A winner of Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey award, Bjugstad took a big step forward this season, but while he’s an intriguing prospect with an attractive skill-set, he’s also playing high school hockey, which makes it very difficult for scouts to project how he’ll adapt when he faces a stiffer test of his abilities.
The positives start with Bjugstad’s stature: at 6’4”, he’s a difficult player to handle physically, and at the high school level he’s been close to unstoppable. He scored better than a goal per game, not only thanks to his considerable frame but also because of talent with the puck and good wheels.
The first negative for Bjugstad is the fact that he’s playing high school hockey. He’s going the NCAA route, but until he gets to college it’s difficult to know how he’ll fare against older players. McKeen’s says that he isn’t a true finisher, while scouts that THN talked to said he simply wasn’t as dominant against weak players as they would have liked.
In short, where Bjugstad ranks on each team’s list depends on how much of his success those teams attribute to playing against below-average players, and how appealing his physical qualities are to the team in question.
McKeen’s Ranking: #33 – “He has the disposition of a young Mike Knuble and factors to be a safe pick for NHL teams.”
THN Ranking: #9 – “Those who watched a skills competition hosted by the Minnesota Wild marvelled at his natural abilities.”