Coming in at #11 in our T25U25 rankings is the second of the two defensemen that the Toronto Maple Leafs signed as free agents out of Sweden in the summer of 2017 — Andreas Borgman, everyone’s favourite professional wrestler body builder World’s Strongest Man competitor bending unit truck thrower hockey player!

Last year Borgman was ranked at #16 by the PPP Hive Mind Collective. I know for myself, there was a lot of uncertainty about who Borgman was and how good he was/could be. The Leafs only just signed him and Rosen, and he had always played over in Sweden where no one but Katya may have really seen him at all.

After seeing him beat out Martin Marincin and fellow-Swede Calle Rosen for the 6th defensive spot early in the NHL season, we collectively saw enough of Borgman to move him up to #11. For context, I basically had him in the tier of guys that I think can be effective NHLers and not career AHLers/guys who ride the pressbox express for most of an NHL season. But because his results were not really spectacular, and were only for part of a full season, I pretty much have him at the bottom of that tier that includes Connor Carrick, Connor Brown, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen.

I personally still see some upside to his game, but I’m also not sure how the hell he’ll fit into the roster now that there is such a big logjam for the exact roster spot he’d be competing for. So unless something else opens up an opportunity for him, or he has a very strong pre-season to show he’s starting to realize some of his remaining potential, I’m not confident enough to rank him any higher.

The Stats

Andreas Borgman stats via Elite Prospects

2010-2011Stockholm 2TV-Pucken40112
2011-2012Timrå IK J18J18 Elit19751236
Timrå IK J18J18 Allsvenskan14381135Playoffs30110
Timrå IK J20SuperElit10000
2012-2013Timrå IK J18J18 Elit10002
Timrå IK J18J18 Allsvenskan733616Playoffs412314
Timrå IK J20SuperElit388132172Playoffs20000
Timrå IKSHL30000Kvalserien SHL20000
Sweden U18WJC-1850116
Sweden U18 (all)International-Jr60116
2013-2014Timrå IK J20SuperElit335182384Playoffs20006
Timrå IKAllsvenskan180002
Kovlands IFDivision 110000
Sweden U19 (all)International-Jr32020
2014-2015Timrå IK J20SuperElit702210Playoffs20112
Timrå IKAllsvenskan4624645
Sweden U20 (all)International-Jr31010
2015-2016Västerås IKAllsvenskan525111644
HV71Champions HL80004
Sweden (all)International40002
2017-2018Toronto Maple LeafsNHL48381128
Toronto MarliesAHL2545923Playoffs20002
2018-2019Toronto MarliesAHL-----

The Player

So who is Andreas Borgman? He is a 23 year old left-shooting defenseman that is only 6’0” but has the body of the offspring from a Greek God of olden times and a military tank. Case in point:

Dragkamp med Ozzy 💦🤼‍♂️

A post shared by Andreas Borgman (@andreasborgman) on

Seeing that bulk, you would expect that Borgman is the Roman Polak-type of defensemen who is slow, bruising, throws a lot of big hits, but is lacking in the skill or scoring department.

Well, part of that is true — Borgman can be bruising and throw some big hits. However, while he is not the fastest skater around he is not a pylon. While he is bulky, he is not also lacking in some skill. He has an okay shot, he is capable of handling the puck and making a pass.

He may not have top level skills in any of those areas to make him a good top-4 option, but personally speaking I think he could make a good third pairing defenseman that won’t be easy pickings for the other team. At 23 years old he doesn’t really have that much more room to grow, and it will be a question of how he recovers from whatever mystery injury kept him out of the AHL playoffs down the stretch.

While in the NHL, he had 3 goals and 8 assists in 48 games — the point totals might not like that big in total, but considering the number of games played and his role/ice time, he did pretty well. As far as possession numbers to show how he was able to drive play, he was pretty respectable at 5 on 5:

  • CF% — 50.24%
  • SCF% — 53.16%
  • HDCF% — 53.77%
  • xGF% — 50.68%/

It’s worth noting, however, that Travis Dermott put up much better numbers than that in a similar role as Borgman had in close to as many games. That’s not to say Borgman is bad, just that it cements in my mind that while Dermott has clear upside to a potential top-4 role, Borgman hasn’t shown that.

Halfway through the year, Borgman was demoted to the AHL. It could have been a move to make room for Polak and/or Dermott, or to try and get Borgman to a point where he could refine his game some more — especially on the PK, where he had a grand total of 9ish minutes in the NHL. While in the AHL, he took a dirty hit to the head not long after his arrival but wound up with 4 goals and 5 assists in 25 games but also 44 shots while he (maybe) had a bigger role.

Come time for the AHL playoffs, when there was big logjam at defense with Travis Dermott returning, Borgman started being paired with LoVerde on the second pairing. Unfortunately, he had a couple of injuries early in the first round, the second one keeping him out of the lineup for the rest of the playoffs.

So what is he? We’re all hoping he can come back from his injury just fine, but even if he does he’ll be fighting to break into a roster spot with five or six locks to be on the roster (barring injury or trade). Fighting with him for that last roster spot as the 7th defensemen will be the likes of Martin Marincin, Justin Holl, and Calle Rosen. While I would personally prefer Borgman over those other three, if he can’t get into the lineup regularly he might still be better served to start the year in the AHL.

The Video

The highlight of the year for Borgman came in the AHL, and granted this is against Laval who were as bad in the AHL as the Habs were in the NHL, but still this was a pretty sweet goal. Not that I expect Borgman to ever pull this off in the NHL, but it shows off his abilities as a skater, on the puck, stick handling, and shot.

Here’s some more goals by Borgman in the NHL, including one against the Habs (he scored another in the pre-season vs the Habs so I’m loving the production he puts up against their whole organization)

And more of the physical side:

Our Thoughts

From Kevin:

Borgman is a player who impressed me early on this season, and proved that he won’t look completely out of place in a third pairing role. He played very sheltered minutes with Connor Carrick and Roman Polak, but stood out as a big physical presence who could surprise us with an impressive rush. He also played 27 games with the Marlies, and while he was not as dominant as expected, I’m confident that he could be a top-pairing defenceman at this level over a larger sample.

He was limited to 5-on-5 duty with the Leafs, and developing into a strong penalty killer would certainly help his chances of making the team. Physically strong defenders tend to play on the penalty kill, and one look at Borgman will convince just about anyone that he could win his fair share of battles around the net.

I like to have at least a couple of strong and physical players in the NHL lineup, and Borgman is talented enough as a puck mover to justify that. He’s 23 and essentially maxed out physically, so I don’t see him making major strides in his development, but he could be a solid third-pairing defenceman and a regular on the penalty kill.

From Katya:

Borgman, who has 22 more NHL games to be played before he needs waivers, will likely be sent down out of camp to await the promotion of Dermott into the top four.

When that happens, and someone moves to the right side to make it work, Hainsey will move down, and then the question is, who is his partner, or has he hit the end of his usefulness with the Leafs? This is when Borgman can move into place, possibly with Carrick instead of Hainsey.

Borgman had a very dramatic skew in his teammates to the lowest quality forwards last season, but all of the third pair guys played against a very carefully managed set of opposing forwards. The bench gave them a hand by loading down Hainsey and Rielly with more than their share of opposing top lines.

In this happy world of easier competition, some offensive zone time with the Bozak line, and a big serving of duty facing their grinders with our grinders, Borgman has the best Primary Points per 60 miniutes after the top four. That’s not terribly important, but his ability to participate offensively with a wide range of fellow players, many of them very bad offensively, is a nice bonus.

If you look at Corsica’s Relative Expected Goals data (I used the RelTxGF% and its component parts for and against), you see Borgman at just under team average, and well above Polak. Anytime your third-pairing guy is around the average — and Borgman is actually above average on the defensive side — you should take notice. The depth guys are usually the worst, that’s why they’re the depth.

Borgman isn’t obviously ready to transition to a bigger role like Dermott, but what he has already proven to be is an above average third-pairing defender, who adds to the offence around him. He can likely handle tougher competition without much problem, so the bench can take the training wheels off the third pair and stop grinding the top four so hard. Give Borgman better forwards in front of him, and he’s going to look even better.

Because he fits so well for a job that is actually available, as opposed to Carrick, who has the wrong special teams skills, a null effect on offence that makes him unsuitable in a top four role full time, and a defensive side to his game that begins and ends with him driving play (not that that’s nothing), I think Borgman adds more value, and he has some space to improve as he adjusts to the North American game. Carrick is who he is, and he’s been passed by Dermott, and could end up the man squeezed out sooner rather than later.

I ranked Borgman over Carrick, and it might take until January for us to see it, but I think he’s going to finish the year with a full time NHL job on the Leafs and Carrick is not.

The Poll

Is #11 the right ranking for Andreas Borgman?

Too high0
Too low0
Juuuuuuuuuuuust right!0