Sitting just a handful of points away from an Eastern Conference wild-card spot, the Florida Panthers could soon be getting some help as they look to return to the post-season.
Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said Friday that the club is open to bringing in NCAA forward Henrik Borgstrom — drafted 23rd overall by Florida in 2016 — to help clinch a playoff spot down the stretch.
Fresh off of winning a national championship with the University of Denver last season, Borgstrom’s college club is preparing for another deep run as it looks to defend its title. But if the Pioneers’ season ends before the Panthers’ does, there’s a chance the high-flying Finn could make his NHL debut in 2018.
“We’ll see what happens at [Denver]. We’re hopeful he has success again,” Tallon told Matthew DeFranks of the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday. “The Frozen Four ends April . We’ll just wait and see, want him to do the best he can now and support Denver and wish them the best and see what happens after that. Depends on how far they go and whether that’s relevant for us to put him in the lineup.”
Since Denver once again has a good shot at a deep post-season run, Borgstrom might not be available to debut before the NHL playoffs begin. That said, Tallon said he wouldn’t be opposed to the young forward joining the big club mid-playoff series.
“It wouldn’t matter to me,” Tallon said. “We want the best team. So if he makes us better, then he’ll be in the lineup. That’s the way it goes. Talent-wise, he can do it.”
Tallon spoke about Borgstrom during Thursday’s Fox Sports broadcast of his club’s 3-0 victory over the Boston Bruins as well. While it’s up in the air at the moment given Denver’s chances at a title, Tallon made it clear the club feels the young prospect could be a game-changer.
“We’ll see what happens,” Tallon said. “This kid is a blue-chipper and we love him, and he’s going to really make a difference on our team”
Borgstrom has been a stud during his two years in the NCAA. After winning a national championship last season, the 20-year-old centreman has a team-leading 21 goals and 49 points through 36 games this year, ranking him fifth in scoring among all NCAA skaters.
That dominant performance thus far earned Borgstrom a place among the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award on Wednesday.
With Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Jared McCann and Derek MacKenzie lining up down the middle for Florida at the moment, it’s not clear where exactly Borgstrom would slot in should he be called up. Tallon said the young Finn’s versatility makes that a non-issue.
“We’ve had to put (Denis) Malgin and (Nick) Bjugstad on the wings,” Tallon told the Sun Sentinel. “It’s easier to put a centre on the wing than to put a wing at centre. Just see how it plays. We’re deep there. That’s one of the strengths of our organization is up the middle.”