Bjugstad returning to Minnesota for junior season in ’12-13

Minnesota junior Nick Bjugstad announced Thursday that he is returning to the Golden Gophers for the 2012-13 season.

“This is the right spot for me,” said Bjugstad in a statement. “I am going to be close to finishing my education and hopefully can accomplish the goal that I have had ever since I was little, which is winning a national championship. We are going to have a good team this year and hopefully get another chance at the national championship and make a run there. I feel I can develop here and become more of a leader on the team as well. Hopefully, I will have a good season.”

Bjugstad, who will turn 20 on July 17, was originally drafted by the Florida Panthers in the first round (19th overall) of the 2010 NHL draft.

Bjugstad was named to the All-WCHA First Team and Second-Team All-American after recording 42 points in 40 games as a sophomore last season. He led Minnesota with 25 goals (tied for fifth in the nation) and also added 17 assists as he finished third on the team in points. His 25 goals were the most scored by a Gophers’ skater since Ryan Potulny had 38 in 2005-06.

“We are obviously excited Nick is returning,” added Minnesota coach Don Lucia. “I think Nick felt that he had a little bit more room to grow as a person and as a player. The great thing is that at the end of his junior year, he will be very close to graduating college. He can be a leader on our team and he feels he can continue to get better in our program.

“He made great strides his first two years and we are confident he is going to make great strides during his junior year.”