In the 2017 offseason, one of the biggest news items for the Leafs was the signings of two defencemen out of the Swedish Hockey League with no north American experience ─ Andreas Borgman and Calle Rosen.
Though we didn’t quite know what to expect out of the two first-timers, both found themselves in the opening night lineup for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Over a full 82-game season, that translates to about 18 points. Leo Komarov scored 19 points in 74 games, if you’re looking for a comparable. We’ll put that under the “acceptable for a third pairing defenceman” category. His possession numbers and expected goal stats are in the “perfectly acceptable” category, and there’s no real.
One knock on his game was his fourteen penalties taken to just four penalties drawn, but that does come with the territory of being a physical defenceman. If you’re one for hits, he racked up 121 of them this season, good for a little under three a game.
Borgman didn’t really impress too much in his time as a Maple Leaf, but he didn’t really do all that much to make you throw your remote at your TV, either. None of his stats were too impressive, but they weren’t at the alarm bell rate either.
Unfortunately for Borgman, he was sent down to the Marlies in February after a series of injuries to Nikita Zaitsev and Roman Polak, ending his first NHL season after 48 games.
We didn’t see him in too many high pressure situations and as a whole was mostly an afterthought in the Leafs’ season, but he was never much of an issue that pulled any segment of the fanbase into loving or hating him too much. We won’t necessarily have fond memories of Borgman from this season, but he was a solid enough contributor and for a defenceman without a flashy game, that’s all you can really ask for.
At age 22, turning 23 this summer, Borgman still has room to grow, but at the same time, will probably figure out in the next few seasons whether he’ll be an NHL regular or just a “tweener” like he was this season.
He’s one of two NHLers this season to have “Borg” start their name, along with Henrik Borgstrom. Also, here’s a fun video of him from his time at HV71.
Borgman had one NHL goal called back, and another goal called back before being eventually credited to him, beating Martin Jones on October 30th. He had a few big hits this year, including absolutely wrecking Alex DeBrincat in the third game of the season.
RIP Brindecat pic.twitter.com/LGY3CqYnpJ
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) October 10, 2017
But in terms of goals, even though it was the AHL level, this goal was both a) absolutely nuts and b) a game I was at, and happened to be checking my phone through the first half of this rush. Saw the puck go in, though.
Travis Dermott, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly, Ron Hainsey, Nikita Zaitsev are all locked up for another year (at least) on their contracts, and barring a trade, all five will remain as regulars in the Leafs’ rotation. Roman Polak is a UFA while Connor Carrick is a RFA, and money’s on either of those two claiming the sixth spot in the Leafs’ regular roster. Add in that Borgman’s on the left side of the lineup, and he’s no higher right now than probably the eighth defenceman in the Leafs’ depth chart. With the pressure of 2017 first-round pick Timothy Liljegren making a roster push in training camp next season, and it’s hard to slot Borgman as an opening-day Leaf.
The Leafs are in an odd spot where the left half of their lineup is full of solid, young defenders on good contracts, but the right side of their defence isn’t exactly anything to scream home about. Sure, the Leafs could use Borgman, but with Travis Dermott playing out of his mind in his NHL stint, it doesn’t really seem to make all that much sense.
With another year on his contract, Borgman’s best shot at sticking around might actually be the most awkward spot for a pro athlete — injury reinforcements. There’s bound to be an injury or two over the next season, and Borgman’s shown that he can play at the NHL level. And in the meantime, maybe he’ll win his second pro championship in as many years with the Marlies this season, after winning it all in the SHL with HV71 a year ago.