Pioneers’ landscape shifts with departures of NHL prospects, seniors

After the Denver Pioneers’ season came to an end many of their top stars have decided to take their talents to the NHL with their respective teams. While this was bound to happen eventually, the departure of these top players for the Pioneers opens up a new door for the younger players on the team to shine.

Where are they now?

Henrik Borgström – Florida Panthers

Drafted by the Panthers in the 2016 NHL Entry draft as the 23rd overall pick, Borgström stayed with the Pioneers to pursue his education while playing for a storied hockey program at the University of Denver.

Through his two seasons with the team, Borgström has provided plenty of highlight-reel goals for the Pioneers fans, and will be a factor for an improving Florida Panthers squad.

(Video Courtesy of NHL Suomi / YouTube )

Currently sitting fourth in the Atlantic division, the Florida Panthers are on the outside looking into the wild-card playoff positions — trailing the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.

Playing along skilled players like Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, and Johnathon Huberdeau, Borgström will be filling in a depth role for the Panthers, with plenty of time for his role to grow.

Following Borgström’s departure, fellow Finnish forward Jaakko Heikkinen will be the one to watch in Denver. With a similar upbringing, Pioneers fans can look at Heikkinen to fill in Borgström’s vacant role in the lineup.

Troy Terry – Anaheim Ducks

After spending three years as a Pioneer, the Olympic hero and Anaheim Ducks draft pick has decided to sign on with the team, and take his talents to the NHL.

The Ducks will be getting another offensive weapon for their already deep team, as Terry has proved to be a playmaker who makes everyone on the ice better during his time with the Pioneers, and while representing the United States in international competition.

(Video courtesy of Inside So Cal Sports/ YouTube)

During his time with the Pioneers, Terry cemented himself into the program’s record books, joining the 100-goal club earlier in the season and representing his hometown university with pride.

Terry would finish his career as a Pioneer with 115 points in 115 games, winning one NCAA championship and the NCHC’s Penrose Cup.

Dylan Gambrell – San Jose Sharks

Drafted the Sharks in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Gambrell has also decided to leave the Pioneers to sign on with this talented NHL squad. Gambrell will add to a talented pool of forwards that consistently allow the Sharks to contend in the playoffs.

Gambrell made his debut for the Sharks this week, and in typical rookie fashion, he was forced to be the lone skater on the ice during warm ups.

Earning a reputation of one of the Pioneers’ most consistent centers, Gambrell will be able to help the Sharks out in this area. Currently sixth in the league for faceoff winning percentage, the Sharks will be receiving a player who can only help them rise from there.

Blake Hillman – Chicago Blackhawks

While the Blackhawks will the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season, plenty of Blackhawks prospects are earning ice time to try and make a difference — and Hillman is happy to fill the role on the blueline for the struggling ‘Original Six’ team.

As if it was a scene out of a storybook, Hillman made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche — and he was able to demonstrate his ability to the team quickly, providing the first shot on goal in the game for the struggling Blackhawks.

After immediately logging nearly twenty minutes of ice time for the Blackhawks, it is clear that Hillman will be able to prove his value in the last few games of the season.

Seniors picking out their paths

Along with the Pioneers’ NHL draft prospects paving their career in the NHL, the Pioneers seniors have already begun to set their own path, with former Pioneers defenseman Adam Plant signing a one-year deal with the Laval Rocket of the AHL, and former Pioneers captain Tariq Hammond signing an amateur tryout with the Binghamton Devils of the AHL.