By Warren Kozireski–
Add Brendan Guhle to the list of young defensemen, three taken in the first round of the draft, the Buffalo Sabres have dealt away over the past six years that also included Tyler Myers, Brayden McNabb, Mark Pysyk and Nikita Zadorov. The difference between this year and the past is that the front office feels they have several other developing prospects on the blueline including Lawrence Pilut and Will Borgen.
Most casual hockey fans won’t even notice Borgen—he plays such a quiet game in his own zone and doesn’t rack up the points in the offensive zone. Paired with Nashville acquisition Jack Dougherty for much of the season, the two have become the shutdown pair for Rochester head coach Chris Taylor.
And he shows up every day missing just one game in January. Just what every contending team needs is a steady stay-at-home defenseman.
The Moorhead, Minnesota native spent three years on the St. Cloud State University blueline where he tallied 41 points in 106 games. He also was named to the U-20 Team USA World Junior team in 2016 during his freshman year when he was also honored on the NCHC All-Rookie team. When he decided to leave college a year early, he was able to play eight games in the AHL late last season, which helped in his preparation for this year.
The fourth-round pick in 2015 (92nd overall) stands 6’2” and 187 lb. He started the season slowly from an offensive perspective with only five points over his first 49 games, but began to contribute from that point forward with nine points over his last 22. That also earned him a four-game NHL call-up to Buffalo so the coaching staff and brass could see where he is developmentally and whether he could be ready sometime next season.
“I was nervous, especially before the game but I think that’s expected,” Borgen said in the Sabres locker room after his March 27 NHL debut against Ottawa. “I had to wait a little, but once I got it (his first shift) out of the way it helped.
“I’m not trying to be a player that I’m not. Just tried to give it to the forwards and let them do the work.
“As soon as my coach (Rochester’s Chris Taylor) called me up and told me, I got really excited,” Borgen said to Inforum reporter Chris Murphy. “It was a pretty crazy moment. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was out of the blue. To get told you’ll be up in the NHL, it’s a pretty awesome moment.”