Seattle Kraken Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Kraken season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the last campaign, as well as what the future may hold for them in Seattle. Today we feature D-man Will Borgen.
Position: Right shot defenseman.
2022-’23 Kraken totals (GP-G-A-P): 82-3-17-20, 47 PIM
Contract Status: Two seasons remaining at $2.700-million per.
Seattle Kraken Season Synopsis
Will Borgen took big strides last season, playing in all 82 games and finding a consistency that came with simple opportunity. Although his upside is clearly finite skill-wise, this is a player entering his prime as a big, physical defenseman. He was arguably the Kraken’s most improved player last season and that aforementioned consistency can be a boon for the Kraken’s blueline depth and overall effectiveness.
Borgen earned a new contract in early July that pays him $5.4-million over the next two seasons.
He arrived from the Buffalo Sabres via the NHL Expansion Draft in 2021 and played 36 games during Seattle’s inaugural season, a healthy scratch for the first 21 matches. Once the team gradually started to realize his dedication to hard work and his willingness to do the little things, Borgen’s ice time increased. He has since made the most of it.
“Made it through the entire year which was a goal of mine,” Borgen said after the season ended. “That was pretty exciting, my first full year in the NHL, so that was good, but overall it was a really solid year for me I thought.”
HIghs And Lows
While playing 3rd pair minutes, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound righty managed to deliver the second most hits on the team, 203, trailing only top-pair D-man Adam Larsson’s 222. He also had the 4th most blocked shots on the club with 89.
Current and former teammates of the soft spoken native of Moorhead, Minnesota will tell you there’s an intense mean streak within him. Appropriate for his size and position, Borgen will not back down to anyone and enjoys the chippy stuff.
Those characteristics manifested themselves in the form of fighting majors three times last season, in the season opener on October 12th in Anaheim against Ducks beast Max Comtois and then 77 games later with fights in back-to-back games against the Vancouver Canucks Ethan Bear and Arizona Coyotes heavyweight Liam O’Brien. The Kraken went 2-0-and-1 in those games.
Borgen dropped the mitts twice during the Kraken’s inaugural season, and although that element of NHL hockey is on the decline, it’s important to have a defender who’s willing to go with all takers. His shut-down partner for a solid hunk of the season, Jamie Oleksiak, possesses a similar mindset.
Borgen smiled and laughed about his physical style of play, the answer coming in the context of the postseason.
“Yeah, just hockey in general, that’s just the way I play,” he said, “but playoffs are more intense, there’s definitely more physicality, so they’re fun games to play in.”
A clear personal highlight would be Borgen’s goal in those Stanley Cup playoffs, coming in Game-4 at Climate Pledge Arena in the opening round against the Colorado Avalanche. Borgen opened the scoring in the first period in a game the Kraken eventually won 3-2 in overtime.
Analytically, Borgen put up about as many goals in the regular season, 3, and points, 20, as expected. His possession and team offensive numbers reflect his role as a limited, stay-at-home defenseman.
What the future holds
If Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol goes with the likeliest D-pairings, Borgen will be back with “Big Rig” Oleksiak, with newcomer Brian Dumoulin joining his former Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup winning teammate Justin Schultz. That’s not etched in stone.
The future is bright for Borgen with a clean slate coming off his first full season in the big show. As a 26-year-old with just 132 NHL games under his belt, he now has a chance to really solidify his role as a physical, mean, shut-down D-man.
The Seattle Kraken will be the beneficiary.
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call – Eeli Tolvanen