Florida Panthers: Henrik Borgstrom Showed Solid Promise in Rookie Campaign

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 23: Henrik Borgstrom #95 of the Florida Panthers has a fan that thinks he Rocks during warm ups against the Boston Bruins at the BB&T Center on March 23, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 23: Henrik Borgstrom #95 of the Florida Panthers has a fan that thinks he Rocks during warm ups against the Boston Bruins at the BB&T Center on March 23, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Henrik Borgstrom’s rookie season was filled with mixed emotions, with the 20-year-old showing signs of the superstar that rocked the NCAA at the University of Denver.

Henrik Borgstrom showed elite talents at Denver, tallying 52 points across 40 games in his final season for the Pioneers.

He was selected for the ACHA All-American first-team for back to back seasons, the first Pioneer forward to achieve this milestone since George Morrison in 1968-69 and 1969-70 seasons.

After a brief four games in 2017-18, Borgstrom debuted on the Florida Panthers preseason roster, with expectations of starting at the top-level in October.

However, Borgstrom struggled to put up enough points and was demoted to the AHL (Springfield) to begin the year.

Again, Borgstrom was fabulous and earned a swift promotion after a rough stretch for the Panthers. With the Thunderbirds, Borgstrom put up 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) across 24 games, the second-most points on the team at the time, only behind Jayce Hawryluk.

Borgstrom made his 2018-19 debut in December, in a 4-3 Panthers win over Toronto in Sunrise. He recorded his first point in the next game, an assist in a 5-2 win against Buffalo, and scored his first goal in just his third game up in a 6-1 loss away to Toronto.

His goals, though fewer in quantity as imagined, were always full of quality. The goal versus Toronto was a mere consolation, with the score already 5-0 Toronto and a hair under 10 minutes to go in the game, Borgstrom made sure the Panthers got something out of the night.

He gets free of Kasperi Kapanen on the right side and receives a point pass from Jared McCann. Borgstrom walks in, sets, fires, and sends a dart past Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen at his near post, getting help from Frank Vatrano with a screen in front.

Another example is from Borgstrom’s best game of the season, his first of two goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Borgstrom finished the game with three points, but his first was what got the Panthers going. Already down 2-0, Dryden Hunt wins the puck against the boards and moves forward.

Borgstrom, lined up to his right, bursts down the center, looking for the puck. Hunt plays him in and “The Artist” blasts the puck past netminder Petr Mrazek to get the Cats on the board.

As seen, the 21-year old has some clear talent. Despite that, those are just two of eight goals he scored across 50 games this season.

The key word with Borgstrom – and the rest of the Panthers team – has to be consistency. This word was lacking with both Borgstrom’s performances and the team’s.

Borgstrom would go on constant stretches of eight games or more where the young Finn failed to hit the back of the net. He ended the season on a 15-game scoreless run after scoring 3 goals in 3 games in the start of March.

He struggled with playing time for a lot of this season, averaging around 12 minutes per game, dipping as low as under 8 minutes against Arizona.

The most time on the ice he had was in a 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh in January, where Bob Boughner benched multiple top forwards in Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman during the third period. Borgstrom played 18:53 in that game.

Another problem with the management of Borgstrom over the course of the year were his linemates.

Borgstrom is a playmaker with a hint of a sniper, always looking for goals on the front end, but primarily pass-first.

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When Borgstrom is forced to play passes to fellow bottom-six players like Dryden Hunt, Jayce Hawryluk, Troy Brouwer, and Jamie McGinn, it’s a lot harder than giving the puck to, say, Mike Hoffman.

One thing to bring relief to the Panthers fans is the comparison to another star Panthers center in his rookie year, Vincent Trocheck.

In his 50 games, Vinny had just 7 goals and 8 assists, whereas Borgstrom had 8 goals in 10 games, an encouraging fact considering Trocheck played with better talent.

If the Panthers grow deeper in the offseason, whether it’s the signing of Artemi Panarin (which would move Frank Vatrano down a line) or if the Panthers moved for more depth forwards like Gustav Nyquist from San Jose or Marcus Johansson from Boston, Borgstrom’s production should increase.

Joel Quenneville is used to getting production out of young bottom-six forwards. Names such as Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, and Teuvo Teravainen all broke out under JQ’s command during their stays in Chicago.

Next. 2019 Was a Rough Season for Vincent Trocheck. dark

With his best play in front of him, Panthers fans should be excited about the future of Henrik Borgstrom with Coach Q.