After starting the off-season by signing Miro Aaltonen, the Toronto Maple Leafs dipped into the European unrestricted free agent once again on May 16, 2017.
The Leafs announced the signings of Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen, two young, standout defencemen from the Swedish Hockey League. Although there were many rumours linking the Leafs to Rosen and his defensive partner, Philip Holm, the Leafs surprised a few when the announcement on Twitter read “Andreas Borgman“.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Andreas Borgman
Prior to the 2016-17 season, Borgman had only briefly played in the Swedish top flight, featuring in three games for Timra IK way back in the 2012-13 year. The native of Stockholm spent four years in the Timra organization before joining VIK Vasteras HK as a 20-year old in 2015-16.
For the first time as a professional, Borgman spent the entire season in the Allsvenskan, the second tier of Swedish hockey. He received much-needed ice-time for his development in Vasteras, the team was not as strong as Timra. The team recorded just 17 wins in the 66 game campaign. Even though the season was not a success his team, Borgman had a very good year for the lowly Vasteras club. In 52 games, he recorded 16 points, good for sixth in U24 defensive scoring in the league.
The performance in 2015-16 landed Borgman a gig in the top flight, with a very strong club. He signed with HV71, a team loaded with young talent looking to make a push for the SHL Championship, the Le Mat Trophy.
A Rookie of the Year Campaign
HV71 had a fantastic season, finishing second in the regular season with 27 wins in 52 games. Borgman flourished in his debut season in the SHL, playing 45 games and scoring 15 points. Those numbers put the then 21-year old seventh in U24 scoring for defencemen in the SHL, winning him SHL Rookie of the Year.
Past recipients of the honour include Mattias Ekholm (2011), Victor Hedman (2009), Nicklas Backstrom (2006), and Henrik Zetterberg (2001). Of course, those are all very high-end NHL players, which of course should not be expected of Borgman. However, solid NHLers such as William Karlsson (2013), Johan Larsson (2012), and Jacob Markstrom (2010) have won the award in recent seasons. Promising players such as San Jose‘s Marcus Sorensen (2015) and Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson (2014) have won recently. Winning Rookie of the Year, even at 21, is an impressive feat that bodes well for Borgman.
Borgman and his SHL club went on to win the Le Mat Trophy as well, defeating Brynas IF in seven games. After Borgman’s good regular season, he found another level offensively in the postseason. In 14 games in the playoffs, he scored a whopping 10 points, leading the league in defensive postseason scoring.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 205 lbs
NHL Entry Draft: Undrafted, Signed on May 16, 2017, by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Contract (via CapFriendly)
As a 21-year old undrafted free agent, Borgman had to sign a two-year entry level contract. He carries a base salary of $832,500, as well as $92,500 in signing bonus. This gives Borgman a cap hit of the maximum for an entry-level contract, at $925,000.
To bring him to Toronto, the Leafs also gave the native of Stockholm Schedule A performance bonuses. These could reach a maximum of $850,000, putting his potential earnings at $1,775,000 if he plays in the NHL all year.
With an open position on the left side of the Maple Leafs’ bottom pairing, Borgman will be in a battle with Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen, Travis Dermott, Rinat Valiev, and Andrew Nielsen for minutes in the NHL. Borgman is at a slight disadvantage, however, having to transition from European ice to the North American game.
If Borgman carries his SHL playoffs success into training camp, he could steal the bottom pairing job. The current favourites are Marincin, who has played two years for Toronto, and Dermott, who had a very strong finish to the AHL season.
As he will likely need time to transition, combined with his young age, Borgman is likely headed to Ricoh Coliseum to start the season. If he is sent to the American Hockey League, Borgman will feature on a very strong Marlies defence. Do not be surprised to see him in the NHL as soon as this season.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images