Rugged winger Todd Bertuzzi, left, could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. ((Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press))

Florida Panthers rugged winger Todd Bertuzzi underwent surgery on his troubled back Thursday and isexpected to be sidelined six to eight weeks.

Bertuzzi last played on Oct. 18 against the Washington Capitals and has missed seven games while receiving treatment and injections for a herniated disc.

But the treatments didn't alleviate the problem, forcing the winger to have the surgery.

The Panthers acquired the 31-year-old Bertuzzi in a June trade that sent goaltender Roberto Luongo to Vancouver.

Bertuzzi, who will earn $5.27 million US and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, has scored one goal and six assists in seven games for the Panthers this year.

The Sudbury, Ont., native netted 71 points in 82 games for Vancouver last season.

During his 11-year career, Bertuzzi has scored 224 goals and 312 assists in 717 games while playing with Florida, Vancouver and the New York Islanders.