BOSTON – Sabres defensive prospect Will Borgen made a positive impression at Buffalo’s summer development camp, earning a spot on the blue line alongside NHLer Jake McCabe. The 18-year-old hopes his next spot is on the international stage.
Borgen, selected in the fourth round of the NHL Draft in June, is making a surprise appearance at USA Hockey’s world junior championship training camp. The defenseman wasn’t invited to the U.S. evaluation camp in August, but his rapid development has put him among the final 28 players hoping to go to the world juniors this month in Finland.
“If I make the team that’d be the ultimate goal, and then bring home some hardware,” Borgen said Wednesday after practice in Boston University’s Agganis Arena. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Borgen put himself on USA Hockey’s radar with a solid start to his collegiate career at St. Cloud State. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has nine assists and a plus-8 rating through 18 games for the NCAA’s fifth-ranked team.
“He’s obviously a guy that we didn’t have as big a book on coming into this,” said Jim Johannson, the junior team’s general manager. “He plays within himself and he plays the position well. He’s a guy that moves the puck first instead of trying to beat guys, which coaches enjoy.
“The thing I like about him is he’s not out here playing hockey to make the team. He’s just playing his hockey. That’s hard for an 18- or 19-year-old to do with a bunch of guys sitting in the stands watching.”
Borgen doesn’t do a lot of fancy things but does most things well, which fits into the mold of Buffalo defenseman Mark Pysyk.
“I think I’m a puck-moving defenseman,” said Borgen, who turns 19 on Saturday. “I don’t favor offense or defense. I play a little bit of both. I just move the puck to the forwards and play D.”
He said he’s received a lot of development help from the Sabres.
“They’ve been great with me so far in my development and communicating with me during the season,” said Borgen, who enjoyed his summer week in Buffalo. “It was a great experience with some great players. The fans were great at the scrimmage with 17,000. It was unbelievable.”