Florida Panthers: Exciting Preseason Start has Fans Hyped for Borgstrom

Florida Panthers center Henrik Borgstrom talks to the media during media day at the BB&T Center on Sept. 12, 2019 in Sunrise, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Florida Panthers center Henrik Borgstrom talks to the media during media day at the BB&T Center on Sept. 12, 2019 in Sunrise, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) /

With preseason starting up again, one player that fans have picked out as promising has been the young center, Henrik Borgstrom.

Henrik Borgstrom, the 23rd overall pick back in the 2016 NHL Draft, played 50 games for the Florida Panthers last season, putting up 18 points in 50 games last season. To build on that, Borgstrom went through an intense an off-season to prepare for (hopefully) his first full season in the NHL.

Not only did Borgstrom know he had to get his stamina up to play in 80+ games, but he knew the expectations were growing higher this season. With Joel Quenneville being announced as head coach, Borgstrom knew the legacy he was bringing with him.

Not only does Quenneville know Stanley Cup caliber-talent, but he knows how to groom that talent. In Chicago, Quenneville was tremendous in the development of Jonathan Toews, who grew into one of the best two-way centers in the entire NHL. Now, Borgstrom wanted to get that same treatment and prepped for it as so.

Borgstrom, who supposedly grew an inch and lost five pounds this off-season, has played in two of the four preseason games and really impressed thus far. In his first game, the Cats’ 1-0 loss in the second game of a two-game set with Nashville, Borgstrom didn’t catch the most praise, but was really solid.

Borgstrom was the first-line center, played 17:04, and won 81% of his face-offs. Borgstrom was matched up against veteran Kyle Turris for most of the night, and absolutely bossed it, holding Turris to winning just 21% of his face-offs. He also played 2:47 on the penalty kill, keeping Nashville’s power play off the board. While his line struggled offensively, they were in control in the defensive zone.

It was his second game that caught Borgstrom a lot of attention, not just from Florida fans. In the Hockeyville game against Montreal on Wednesday night, Borgstrom looked much better on the offensive side of the puck. Playing with Mike Hoffman and Denis Malgin, Borgstrom looked much more comfortable making plays.

Borgstrom again used his size to his advantage, getting up on the boards, defending well, and pushing the pace all night against the Habs’ defense. While he failed to put up any points, it would be harsh to not acknowledge the shift he put in.

The performance was so impressive that some wondered whether Borgstrom would start this next season as a top-six forward. Before, it was basically set in stone that the Finn would line up as the third line center, playing with either Frank Vatrano or Brett Connolly on one flank with Denis Malgin on the other. There’s now a lot of uncertainty due to underperforming so far in the pre-season, with the Cats losing their opening four games.

While the issue hasn’t as much been with the forwards, there are problems that need to be fixed with a few players. Borgstrom has not been one of those problems at all and looks set to be one of many players who could push above his weight this season.

With Connolly impressing already, Borgstrom has competition to try and be amongst the top six. Vincent Trocheck also impressed, bagging a crucial assist on the power play to Connolly to tie the game halfway through the third.

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So far, while the signs are promising, Borgstrom does need to add to that end product. There’s no uncertainty whether he makes the roster, so with three more preseason games left, look for an explosion offensively for Henrik Borgstrom.