<
>

Panthers sign Nick Bjugstad

The Florida Panthers have signed center Nick Bjugstad, who leads the team with 13 goals this season, to a six-year contract.

Bjugstad will receive escalating salaries beginning with the 2015-16 season, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun. Bjugstad will be paid $2.85 million that season. In the five seasons after that, he will make $3.35 million, $3.85 million, $4.3 million, $5 million and $5.25 million.

He was scheduled to be a restricted free agent after this season.

"We are very pleased to have agreed to a long-term contract with Nick," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement Wednesday. "He is a big, strong and skilled forward who will play an important role on our club for the next several seasons. Nick, along with Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson and Johnathan Huberdeau are all part of our club's growing nucleus of young and talented players that will lead our team to future success."

The 22-year-old Bjugstad scored the Panthers' lone goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to Montreal on Tuesday night. He also has eight assists, giving him 21 points this season, and 94 shots on goal.

As a rookie last season, Bjugstad had 16 goals and 38 points to lead the Panthers in scoring.