When you think about young, up-and-coming Finns featured in the 2016 NHL Draft, the names Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Olli Juoleiv are the ones that’ll most likely come to mind. But Finland, who seems to have had their own massive hockey baby boom in the late 1990s, has a handful of other interesting, low-key prospects heading into Friday’s draft.
After the aforementioned big three, Henrik Borgstrom — a tall, skilled, and creative forward who’s committed to play for the University of Denver next season — is next on the list of Finns leading the country’s boom in this year’s draft.
Last season, Borgstrom played for HIFK’s U-20 squad rather than their SM-liiga team in order to maintain NCAA eligibility, as he’s committed to play for the University of Denver, as I mentioned above. Of course, most of the other top European skaters heading into the draft played in top leagues rather than the junior ranks, making it difficult to compare him to other top prospects heading into the draft. That said, he finished first on the team in scoring with 55 points in 40 games, which was also good for 11th in the league.
The Eye Test
- “Second year eligible Finnish centre is big slick stick-handler who needs to work to further strengthen his lower body in order to add power and speed to his skating. He has good skills and vision, but little consistency. Needs to be better away from the puck, and continue to grow his offensive side. Displays some really good dangle in his possession skills but has trouble deciding what the read is and can look bad when things go south in transition. Committed to Denver University where the team who selects him will expect to see upside.”
- “Borgström is a player who creates offense through puck possession and unexpected plays. This made the 6’3 center valuable part of HIFK U20’s power play. He has an ability to move the puck through traffic and find others easily. He’s got excellent reach and really good puck control in tight. Borgström can be extremely tough to stop when driving to the net from the wing and getting the inside position. His wrist shot is another asset, it may not be the heaviest one but nevertheless really accurate. There were a few times this season when this observer saw him find top shelf with quality wristers. His hockey sense and passing are above-average.
- While Borgström is certainly one of the most talented Finns for the draft, he’s somewhat raw and there’s clearly work to be done in some aspects of the game. He has decent separation speed, but his acceleration could improve. Additionally, he sometimes glides on the ice too much instead of keeping his feet moving. Certain times he also tries to do too much with the puck which can result in turnovers. He could also get better at face-offs going forward. Defensively, Borgström shows good stick positioning and decent gap control but more of a physical presence in battles would be nice to see.”
Does He Fit With The Red Wings?
He would certainly be a long-term project, but his size, skill, and offensive creativity are certainly intriguing. But hey, let’s be honest here, it’s not like the Red Wings haven’t had a good time with Scandinavians drafted in the mid-rounds, right?