Henrik Borgstrom will begin his 2020-21 hockey season in his native Finland as HIFK announced it had signed the Florida Panthers center in a move which been rumored since the spring.
Borgstrom, a restricted free agent, could return to the Panthers if and when a contract is agreed to and the NHL season gets closer to going forward.
The Panthers made Borgstrom the 23rd overall pick of the 2016 draft and he spent two seasons at the University of Denver — leading the Pioneers to a national title as a freshman.
Borgstrom turned pro in 2018 and joined the Panthers at the end of that season, playing in four games and scoring his first NHL goal in Florida’s season-finale at Boston.
After starting the 2018-19 season with AHL Springfield, Borgstrom was recalled by the Panthers and played in 50 games, scoring eight goals with 18 points.
Borgstrom came into last season as Florida’s third-line center but after four games fell out of favor with coach Joel Quenneville who made him a healthy scratch.
When the Panthers signed veteran Brian Boyle to a one-year deal, Borgstrom was sent back to Springfield with the thought being he would be back later in the season.
Tervetuloa himaan, Niki! 🙌
🗣️ "Olen erittäin innoissani, että olemme vihdoin päässeet tekemään sopimuksen."
— Helsingin IFK (@HIFKHockey) October 4, 2020
“We want him playing, want him playing in more and more situations where he has the puck more and is involved in the attack,” Quenneville said at the time.
“He is going to get a chance to play in all situations and get increased ice time.”
Borgstrom, admittedly not real happy with going back to the minors, struggled with the Thunderbirds. He ended his season with 11 goals and 23 points in 49 games.
“It has been a very trying season and I have just tried to play through the bad games. I have had some slumps and it has been frustrating,” Borgstrom said last season.
“There have been some times where I have lost it. I haven’t been at my best and that affects everything. Overall, I think I have played pretty well, I just haven’t gotten the results.”
Although he picked up his game at the end of Springfield’s season, an ankle injury cut his season short and apparently kept him out of the Panthers’ summer training camp.
In a release put out by HIFK on Sunday, Borgstrom said his rehabilitation from the injury is behind schedule and he is a few weeks from playing.
The Panthers would still hold Borgstrom’s NHL rights if he decides to continue playing in Helsinki throughout the season.
He is not the only Florida player currently starting a season in Europe.
The Panthers have also loaned out Eetu Luostarinen, Aleksi Heponiemi, Vladislav Kolyachonok, Rodrigo Abols and Aleksi Saarela out.