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Borgstrom Will Be Ongoing ‘Project’ For Capitals: ‘We Can Get More Out Of Him’



Capitals forward Henrik Borgstrom

As 2022 NHL Free Agency kicked off, the Washington Capitals stocked up on quite a few names, mainly at the forward position.

The Capitals not only brought on Dylan Strome and Connor Brown to add top-6 depth while also re-signing Marcus Johansson, but they made another depth addition down the middle, inking pivot Henrik Borgstrom to a one-year, two-way deal.

The Finn — who is one of the first from his country on the roster in a long time — is coming off a buyout from the Chicago Blackhawks. He hasn’t exactly been able to break through at the NHL level, but general manager Brian MacLellan is on a mission to change that.

“Our desire has been to add some young players into our lineup… Borgstrom, I think he’s going to be a big project for us,” MacLellan said. “I think we can get more out of him. He’s 24.”

Borgstrom was a first-round selection in 2016 (Florida Panthers, No. 23) after having been passed over the year before. Following the draft, he played college hockey at the University of Denver, dishing 43 points in 37 games in his first year before breaking out in his second, dishing 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points in 40 games in 2017-18.

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He then made the NHL jump and had eight goals and 10 assists in his rookie year. However, he couldn’t maintain consistency and couldn’t quite translate his college success to the pros. He spent some time in the AHL and also returned to SM-Liiga in 2020-21, and when he came back this season to play for Chicago, he couldn’t quite put everything together, finishing the year with just four goals and three assists in 52 games, leading to the buyout.

In 110 career NHL games, he has just 13 goals and 13 assists, but ultimately, there’s still a lot of potential there.

The 6-3, 200-pound center is a big forward who can move the puck well and also possesses a strong shot and good playmaking ability. He can create time and space in the offensive zone and takes care of the puck, while also using his vision and hockey IQ to his advantage.

However, he hasn’t learned how to fully use his size to his advantage, and he needs to work on his skating and speed, along with his two-way play. The Helsinki native has shown that he can score goals and contribute and has shown flashes of the skill that made him a first-round pick. It’s just a matter of finding that consistency and striking a balance.

And in the end, MacLellan hopes he can find that with the Capitals, whether it be in D.C. or down with the Hershey Bears.