When the Florida Panthers selected Henrik Borgstrom with the 23rd overall pick at the 2016 NHL Draft, it was widely described as an "off the board" selection. Relatively unknown in comparison with his first-round cohort, Borgstrom was committed to Denver and was seen as a project, a player likely to be a few years removed from getting a look in the NHL.
Then Borgstrom took the NCAA by storm as a freshman.
In his first season of college hockey, Borgstrom tied with Anaheim Ducks prospect Troy Terry for the Denver Pioneers team lead in goals scored with 22. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound native of Helsinki, Finland was instrumental in Denver's NCAA Championship victory, was named the NCHC Rookie of the Year and earned a reputation among hockey fans as a human highlight reel.
Now in his sophomore season, Borgstrom isn't just on the college hockey world's radar, he's at the forefront. With 13 points (9-4-13) in seven games with the Pioneers this season, Borgstrom has registered a point in each game he has played. He's put together three multi-goal games, four multi-point games and he had himself a night on Nov. 3 at Western Michigan, when he posted a career-high four points and his first NCAA hat trick.
Spoiler Alert: Denvers' first three goals belonged to Borgstrom.
The 20-year-old forward's nine goals leads the entire NCAA and he's second in the nation in points on a per-game basis. Among college hockey's top-10 point scorers, Borgstrom has played the fewest games (7).
Borgstrom's unique offensive tool kit has earned him some exceptionally high praise from his coach Jim Montgomery. "He does things on the ice you just don't see very often," Montgomery told The Athletic's Corey Pronman. "Of the players I've coached I call him the 6-3 version of Johnny Gaudreau."
ON THE FARM
The Springfield Thunderbirds completed their three-game weekend with a 1-2-0 outcome.
The young T-Birds squad defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday, Nov. 3. Cats 2015 third-round pick Samuel Montembeault made 38 saves to earn his first professional win, while Liiga's 2016-17 leading scorer Henrik Haapala picked up three assists, an AHL career high. Curtis Valk tallied twice for his first AHL multi-goal game. Valk, Haapala and Montembeault were voted the game's first, second and third stars respectively.
Anthony Greco, Jayce Hawryluk (PPG) and Michael Downing (SHG) scored for Springfield in the win.
Goals: Anthony Greco (6)
Assists: Alexandre Grenier (8)
Points: Curtis Valk (10), Alexandre Grenier (10)
+/-: Tim Erixon (+2), Ed Wittchow (+2)
PPG: Anthony Greco (3)
SHG: Chase Balisy (1), Michael Downing (1)
Shots: Anthony Greco (53)
Florida's 2017 second-round pick Aleksi Heponiemi currently leads the Western Hockey League in assists (25) and ranks second in points (37). His 37 points have been registered in just 15 games. The native of Tampere, Finland is only one point behind the league's point leader, Arizona Coyotes prospect and Swift Current Broncos linemate Tyler Steenbergen. Heponiemi owns a seven-game point streak (8-9-17). On Oct. 20 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Heponiemi posted five points (1-4-5).
Defenseman Linus Nassen, Florida's 2016 third round pick, has registered 11 assists in 16 games - including nine power play assists, which leads all WHL defensemen - with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
THEY'RE THE KIDS IN THE OHL
• Jonathan Ang has posted 26 points (10-16-26) in 19 games for the Peterborough Petes. The Cats 2016 fourth-round pick is tied for sixth in the OHL in points and tied for fifth in assists.
• Adam Mascherin leads the Kitchener Rangers with 14 points (8-6-14) in 17 games.
• Riley Stillman has posted eight assists in 17 games with the Oshawa Generals.
ON THE MOVE
After a seven-game stint with the Panthers, 2017 first round pick Owen Tippett has been returned to his junior club, the Mississauga Steelheads. Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon explained the move in a team release:
"Owen was impressive in his time with our club and has a bright future with the Panthers," said Tallon. "This was a tough decision, but we think it's best for his long-term development."
Tippett is set to make his season debut for the Steelheads on Friday, Nov. 10 against the Saginaw Spirit. The 18-year old native of Peterborough, Ontario, was also recently named to Team OHL for the annual Canada-Russia Series.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
Freshman defenseman and 2017 Panthers third-round pick Max Gildon is off to a blazing start to his collegiate career at the University of New Hampshire. Gildon leads all Wildcats defensemen with six goals and is first in the NCAA among freshmen defensemen in goals, power-play goals, power-play points, game-winning goals and shots on goal. To read more about Florida's 2017 third round pick, check out Jameson Olive's recent profile on him HERE.
• Miami University sophomore Karch Bachman has posted three points (1-2-3) in eight games this season.
• University of Maine forward Patrick Shea has notched three points (1-2-3) in eight games for the Black Bears.
• Saint Lawrence defenseman Benjamin Finkelstein has produced six points (2-4-6) in 10 games this season and ranks fifth among NCAA in blocked shots, with 27.
• In six games Notre Dame junior Joe Wegwerth has recorded four points (3-1-4) in six games.
• Bowling Green sophomore goaltender Ryan Bednard has posted a 1-2-2 record with a 2.13 GAA and .924 save percentage over five games.
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