By Erica Whyte
With Prospect Challenge well underway, Buffalo fans have been able to get a glimpse at some of the young talent that the Sabres organization has spent the last few years cultivating. Among those elite youngsters is Minnesota native and defenseman Will Borgen.
On top of being one of the youngest players to be named to the U.S. Olympic squad last winter, the 6-foot-2 stay-at-home blueliner was a key component to the NCAA’s top-rated St. Cloud State University team. After top-seed St. Cloud’s upset loss to their 16th seed opponent in the NCAA tournament last March, Borgen joined the Rochester Americans for an eight-game stint to close out the 2017-18 season and then signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Buffalo.
With a handful of professional games under his belt, and having played for three different teams, at three different levels on two different continents last year, it is no surprise that Borgen’s adjustment to this new Sabres squad has been seamless.
“He talks a lot (on-ice) and he’s a great guy to play with,” said Buffalo's 2018 first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin of his new defense partner and only other Sabres player to have represented his country during the Olympics this year. “He’s tough in the D-zone and skilled in the O-zone, so it’s fun to play with him.”
“Will has been one of our best defensemen with his physical style,” said Rochester head coach Chris Taylor, who is overseeing the Sabres through Prospect Challenge. "I thought he's played really well.”
Though Borgen’s physicality, ability to finish checks, and rock-solid blueline presence are all contributors to the successes he has seen so far in his young career, he spent this summer trying to bulk up in preparation for the season ahead.
“I worked out and skated every day,” said Borgen of his main focus this off-season. "I tried putting on some weight to fill out my body a little bit. I’m building strength off the ice”
Another focus for Borgen? Earning his way to the big club full time.
“The ultimate goal is to play in the NHL,” he said, "but wherever I’m put I’m going to work really hard and whatever happens happens."