The Florida Panthers added a key piece to both their late-season playoff push and their bright future on Monday afternoon, signing 2016 first-round pick and top prospect Henrik Borgström to a three-year, entry-level contract.
"Henrik is a highly-talented, exciting and dynamic young forward who has been a dominant player over his last two seasons in Denver," Panthers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Dale Tallon said in a statement.
"In a short time, he has put together an accomplished career in the college game, including a national championship. We are thrilled to have him take the next step in his development with the Panthers. Henrik's addition to our skilled, young core of players further strengthens our foundation for success for years to come."
After suiting up for the past two seasons at the University of Denver, Borgström's collegiate career came to an end on Sunday night with a loss to Ohio State in the NCAA tournament.
An All-American and Rookie of the Year in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) in 2017, Borgström followed up his 43-point freshman campaign by being named NCHC Player of the Year, NCHC Forward of the Year and a Top-10 finalist for the 2018 Hobey Baker Award, which is awarded annually to best player in college hockey.
Nicknamed "The Artist" for his skills in the offensive zone, Borgström uses his stick like a paint brush to create beautiful highlight-reel goals that almost double as fine works of art. A native of Helsinki, Finland, the 20-year-old center is expected to add offense to Florida's stretch run.
Here's a few numbers of note on the newest member of the Panthers:
1: The number of NCAA Championships Borgström won at Denver. In four tournament games Borgström, then a freshman, registered a goal and four assists to help the Pioneers steamroll through the Frozen Four. In the championship game, recorded two shots on goal as Denver defeated the Minnesota Duluth, 3-2, to secure their eighth national title.
"I know how championship teams are built," Borgström told FloridaPanthers.com in July. "In Denver, we had a great team last year and we'll have a great team next year too. You know what it takes, especially playing against teams like Minnesota Duluth. They were an old team, you know, a lot of strong guys.
"When we played against them, I was like, 'these guys are so strong. I still have to work a lot.' I think playing those games are the best experiences. You get the best memories out of them. Of course, it taught us a lot and I got a lot from it."
9: The number of individual accolades Borgström won while at Denver. With no shortage of hardware to line his shelves, Borgström was awarded these honors during his spectacular collegiate career: 2018 NCHC All-Tournament Team, 2018 NCHC First All-Star Team, 2018 NCHC Forward of the Year, 2018 NCHC Player of the Year, 2018 Hobey Baker Finalist, 2017 NCHC All-Rookie Team, 2017 NCHC Rookie of the Year, 2017 NCHC Second All-Star Team and 2017 NCAA (West) First All-American Team.
"He's got the most upside I've seen in a long time," Borgström's ex-Denver teammate and current Panthers prospect Evan Cowley said in July. "He's super crafty with the puck, exciting to watch. He's the type of guy that puts butts in seats. [The fans] are almost as amazed as we are when he pulls stuff off in games. He's going to be exciting for a lot of years to come."
22: The amount of goals Borgström scored during his freshman season at Denver. The NCHC Rookie of the Year in 2017, he led all NCAA freshman in goals (22) and finished third with 43 points in 37 games played. In his first season with the Pioneers, he was also named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team and the Second All-Conference Team after leading all NCHC rookies in both 19 points and 12 goals in conference play.
23: The pick the Panthers used to select Borgström in the 2016 NHL Draft. After being passed over in his first year of eligibility, Borgström was the highest-rated player to re-enter that year's draft. He was the ninth-rated European skater by NHL Central Scouting, but many other outlets were still not sold on his talents. ISS Hockey considered him the 137th-best prospect, while McKeen's hockey had him at 79. But the Panthers saw something special in Borgström and jumped at the opportunity to snag him late in the first round - a move that seems better than ever in hindsight.
"He doesn't play the 200-foot game and he's not as heavy as [Aleksander] Barkov, but he's got the same type of offensive puck skill as Barkov," Panthers Director of Amateur Scouting Jason Bukala said at the draft. "Dale [Tallon] went to see him in Chicago at an elite camp and he just came away like, wow, this is just something we can't overlook. He's too good at that slot."
92: The amount of points Borgström tallied during with his HIFK teams in the U18 and U20 leagues. Although he never suited up in Finland's top league, SM-Liiga, he showed great promise against junior-level competition prior to being drafted, combining for 41 goals and 92 points in 61 games over two seasons.
95: The amount of points Borgström accumulated over two seasons at Denver. In 77 games, he scored 45 goals and added 50 assists. He finished tied for fourth in NCAA scoring during the 2017-2018 season, leading the Pioneers with 52 points (23 goals, 29 assists) in 41 games. He was the only unanimous selection for First-Team All-Conference after winning the NCHC regular-season scoring race with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in conference play.
"If somebody asked me about college, I'd recommended it, for sure," Borgström said in July. "It was probably the best decision of my life. It's so much fun. You have hockey and you have friends."