|Three years ago, Mark Borowiecki was all smiles after the Senators made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Today, the Ottawa native signed his first NHL contract and will join the AHL's Binghamton Senators this weekend (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images). |
One more time, Mark Borowiecki made the short drive to Scotiabank Place to keep living his biggest hockey dream.
It's the building in which the Senators made the Ottawa native a fifth-round pick (139th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Almost three years later, it also became the place where the hard-nosed blueliner inked his first National Hockey League contract.
With a two-year entry-level contract and amateur tryout offer now in hand, the 21-year-old Borowiecki now will make his way to the American Hockey League and the Binghamton Senators, where he'll officially get his pro hockey career underway. In the process, he'll surrender his final year of eligibility at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.
"It doesn't feel real right now," a grinning Borowiecki admitted after inking his Senators contract earlier today. "It all happened pretty quickly. The season (at Clarkson) ended and I thought I was going to be buckling down on the school work there. I got in touch with my agent and things moved quickly, but I'm pretty happy now."
Borowiecki was following the draft at his Kanata home back in 2008 when he learned the Senators, the team he'd cheered for growing up, had made him one of their draft picks. Today, he moved a step closer to someday playing in the same building as his favourite team.
"I don't know if anything can really beat that day," said Borowiecki, the first Ottawa native ever drafted by the Senators. "I wasn't really expecting it. But (today) is definitely right up there, too."
The Senators, meanwhile, are enthused about adding a character-type blueliner to Binghamton's roster for the playoff drive. Borowiecki wore the captain's "C" during his junior year at Clarkson, helping direct the Golden Knights to the East Coast Athletic Conference playoffs, where they were eliminated by Harvard last weekend.
"He’s a local kid and he’s an extremely hard worker," said Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray. "He works as hard on and off the ice as anybody in our organization. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to leave before his senior year. We talked to him and we talked to his agent and they came to the agreement that it was probably the best thing for him to do. We’re looking forward to having a real character local guy in the fold here."
"It doesn't feel real right now. It all happened pretty quickly. The season (at Clarkson) ended and I thought I was going to be buckling down on the school work there. I got in touch with my agent and things moved quickly, but I'm pretty happy now." - Mark Borowiecki
While Borowiecki is regarded as mainly a stay-at-home defenceman — "I like taking care of my own end and definitely bringing that physical presence" — he added some offence to his game during his time at Clarkson.
"He was a two-way defenceman at Clarkson," said Murray. "Really hard nosed on the ice, was a captain, led by example and competed hard every shift. He's hard to play against in the defensive zone and the offensive zone. At the start here, if he gets into some games in Binghamton, it’ll be in a very safe defensive role and we’ll see how his game evolves. He’s more of a defensive defenceman but he’s got good offensive skills and can move the puck and shoot the puck."
Borowiecki, who played for the Smiths Falls Bears in the Central Junior Hockey League for two seasons before heading to Clarkson, credited the university atmosphere with helping to accelerate his development.
"Playing junior here, I lived at home and had my parents do everything," he said. "Going to school, I was kind of on my own and had to grow not only on the ice but as a person off the ice. The coaches there are great and they helped me out a lot, so I can't thank them enough for what they’ve done for me."
Clarkson coach George Roll is confident that growth will continue in the pros.
"Mark made a huge impact on our program," said Roll. "He played a lot of minutes for us and we relied upon him in so many situations, power play, penalty killing and 5-on-5. Mark battled every shift and competed as hard as any player we have had here. It reflects highly on our program that we can attract players of Mark's calibre. After seeing his development here at Clarkson, I am certain Mark will have a long and successful pro career."
The addition of Borowiecki and forward Derek Grant
, who signed with the Senators out of Michigan State on Thursday, should add some much-needed depth for the B-Sens, who have seen their roster thinned by callups to the big club in Ottawa.
"They’re both good players. They can both play there for sure," said Murray. "They’ll have some good times and they’ll have some tough times there at the start, but I think they’re both elite players. They can step in and play in the American league and help that team get back on track and win games.
"This is a much better (level of) player than scouring the East Coast league for a player that can just be a body on the bench. These guys can play top three forward lines, top six D and really help us down there, I believe."