Former University of Minnesota and current Florida Panthers star Nick Bjugstad is back in Minnesota for Florida's game against the Wild Thursday night.

Bjugstad recently signed a six-year contract extension worth over $24 million, but life as a professional hockey player hasn't kept him from paying attention to his former team.

"They're a really talented team, one of the more talented teams I've seen in a while from them," Bjugstad said. "It's just going to be a matter of putting it together."

He noted that between games and practices, he catches the Gophers games on his computer. Over the All-Star break, he returned to Minnesota to watch the Gophers play in the North Star College Cup.

The Panthers center said he does believe the Gophers, who are tied for 13th in the pairwise rankings and third in the Big Ten, will make the tournament.

"With college hockey, a lot of it is about timing and putting it together, which I think they will at the end of the season," Bjugstad said. "There‚Äôs a lot of teams that get hot at the end of the year and are good teams, but just went through slumps. I have confidence in them."