There have been a number of questions surrounding what will happen with Florida Panthers restricted free agent Henrik Borgstrom next season and some of those questions were answered when a report from Lassi Seppa of Jatkoaika (translation required) reported that Borgstrom has signed with the Liiga’s HIFK team for the rest of the season. There is, however, an out-clause if he chooses to return to North America.
Borgstrom, who falls under the 10.2(c) CBA clause for restricted free agents, is a restricted free agent, but because he hasn’t accrued three years of experience, he isn’t eligible for an offer sheet and has little to no power other than holding out. This may be the next best option for Borgstrom who has seen his status as one of the Panthers’ top prospects slip in the last couple of years. The 23-year-old and 2016 first-round pick by the Panthers came out of the University of Denver with quite a bit of fanfare and many expected him to immediately step into a major role with the club. He got a chance like that in 2018-19 in which he appeared in 50 games, but saw mostly third-line minutes and picked up just eight goals and 18 points. Last year was even more disappointing for the winger, who made four appearances with the Panthers, spending most of his season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds. He didn’t fare much better there as he managed just 11 goals and 23 points in 49 games and rumors leaked out that he was considering returning to Europe due to his unhappiness with his development in the Panthers’ system.
That opportunity lies in front of Borgstrom now as he joins HIFK. The forward has some experience with the franchise as he played with the HIFK junior squads from 2013 to 2016, including a season with the HIFK U20 team in which he tallied 29 goals and 55 points before being drafted 23rd overall by Florida later that year. He could remain with the Liiga team or use that leverage to hold out for a better role with the Panthers next season.