From the Buffalo Sabres, the Seattle Kraken have selected defenseman Will Borgen at the 2021 Expansion Draft.
Borgen is a 24-year-old native of Moorhead, Minnesota, and standing at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, has the frame of a hard-hitting NHL defenseman. Before being drafted, he played one season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), and played the rest of his time in Minnesota’s elite high school hockey system in his hometown Moorhead. After being drafted, he competed at the collegiate level with St. Cloud State University, from 2016-18.
Borgen was drafted by the Sabres in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, with the 92nd-overall pick. He went straight to college to play hockey there, but it was only a few short seasons before he joined the Sabres’ prospect pipeline and began to show what he was made of at the professional level.
Professional Journey Through 2020-21
After leaving St. Cloud State University at the end of the 2017-18 collegiate hockey season, Borgen joined the Sabres’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Rochester Americans for eight games at the end of their season. He then joined them full-time, playing 71 games in the 2018-19 AHL season, scoring three goals, 11 assists, and 14 points, along with a plus-8 plus/minus rating. He posted similar stats with one goal and 11 points in 61 games the following season, before it was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the 2020-21 NHL season, Borgen finally got his chance to suit up for the Sabres for more than just a few games, mostly due to injury, COVID-related scratches, and some players like defenseman Brandon Montour being traded at the trade deadline. Borgen ended up becoming a mainstay in the Sabres lineup by the end of the season.
Borgen just finished his entry-level contract with the Sabres, and was making $925,000 per year on that deal. He is a restricted free agent, which means the Sabres would have retained his rights if the Kraken hadn’t selected him. But, since he was selected by them, they are now able to offer him a new contract.
What Will Borgen Bring to the Kraken?
In his short NHL career, Borgen has only played 14 games, and has yet to record his first point. Last season, he played 10 games for the Sabres, scoring no points and registering a minus-4 plus/minus rating, along with seven shots on goal. While his lack of experience and lack of offense might be concerning to Kraken fans, I believe that he was one of the better Sabres prospects on defense, and would have been a shoo-in to make the big club full-time next season.
Borgen played alongside Sabres star Rasmus Dahlin most of last season, both before an injury that kept him out for two months and when he came back to finish the season. Many thought those two would make a great defense pairing for seasons to come, and if the Sabres had protected Borgen in this expansion draft, I’m sure that would have been the case. Where Dahlin took offensive chances, Borgen covered for him on defense, and where Dahlin made mistakes in his own end, Borgen seemed to be there to clean it up.
Borgen will be a calming presence in his own end, will play a lot of minutes on the Kraken’s penalty kill, and will thrive in high-pressure situations, like when the Kraken need to hold on to lead at the end of a game. Kraken fans are getting a player who might turn into one of the more serviceable shut-down defensemen in the NHL sooner than later.
Other Sabres Players Left Exposed to the Kraken
- Jeff Skinner
- Kyle Okposo
- C.J. Smith
- Andrew Oglevie
- Riley Sheahan
- Cody Eakin
- Tobias Rieder
- Zemgus Girgensons
- Matt Irwin
- Colin Miller
- Brandon Davidson
- Jake McCabe
- Dustin Tokarski
- Carter Hutton
- Michael Houser
Brandon is a Buffalo Sabres Contributor for THW and Co-Host of THW’s ‘Sabres Scoop,’ who received his Master of Science in Sport Administration from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, and founded his website, Seltytending, in 2017. He is an avid hockey writer and podcaster with prior work experience in the OJHL, NWHL, and NCAA. Twitter: @BSalts15