Left: Troy Terry, Upper Right: Dylan Gambrell and Lower Right: Henrik Borgström
As expected, the talented Denver forward trio of Troy Terry, Henrik Borgström and Dylan Gambrell have all elected to forego their remaining NCAA hockey eligibility and have all signed three-year NHL Entry Level Contracts (ELCs) with the respective teams that held their draft rights. These ELCs have a maximum base salary of $925,000 per season, and the players may also earn signing and performance bonuses that may cap out at up to $3.75 million. All ELCs are two-way contracts, meaning that if the player is sent to play the AHL, they will be paid a minor league salary of about $70,000.
Additionally on Tuesday, Mar. 27, junior defenseman Blake Hillman also left the Pioneers a year early to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks. Hillman is expected to begin his pro career with the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL minor league affiliate in Rockford, Ill. Hillman’s contract is a two-year deal.
Terry, a junior right wing from Highlands Ranch, Colo. gave up his his senior year at DU, and will join the Anaheim Ducks and will play his first game tomorrow night (Mar. 26) against the Vancouver Canucks. Terry was selected by Anaheim in the fifth round of the NHL draft in 2015, and played for the U.S. Olympic team last February in South Korea. He had 48 points in 39 games for DU this season. He also leaves DU as a 2017 NCAA Champion and a World Junior Gold Medalist.
Terry tweeted the following quote on Monday evening: “As a kid I dreamed of playing for the University of Denver… The last three years have been everything I dreamt of and more, and I can’t thank everyone enough who was a part of it for making it the best three years of my life. DU will always be my home, and I will miss everything about it. That being said, I am extremely excited to be joining the @anaheimducks organization, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Borgström, a sophomore center, will give up his last two years at DU and will join the Florida Panthers this week, and may make his NHL debut as early as Wednesday (Mar. 27) night when the Panthers visit the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto, Ontario. He was selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft by Florida, and hails from Helsinki, Finland. He led DU with 52 points (23-29-52) over 40 games this year. Borgstrom, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) regular season scoring leader was also named the conference’s 2018 Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is also currently a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, annually presented to NCAA hockey’s most outstanding player.
“Henrik is a highly-talented, exciting and dynamic young forward who has been a dominant player over his last two seasons in Denver,” said Florida Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon. “In a short time he has put together an accomplished career in the college game, including a  national championship. We are thrilled to have him take the next step in his development with the Panthers. Henrik’s addition to our skilled, young core of players further strengthens our foundation for success for years to come.”
Gambrell, a junior forward from Bonney Lake, Wash. will give up his senior year at DU. A second round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2016, Gambrell was second on the Pioneers in plus/minus rating (+19), second in assists (30), third in points (43) and shots (127), and tied for third in goals (13). During the 2017-18 season, he was named also named as a Hobey Baker nominee.
“Dylan is one of the top college players in the country, who has proven through his many accomplishments that he can compete at the highest level,” said San Jose GM Doug Wilson. “We believe his speed, combined with his high-end hockey IQ, make him ready to be an NHL player. We are confident that, with his skill-set, he will make an impact with our team.”
Borgström and Terry are likely both candidates for top six forward roles, given their elite skills and hockey sense, but it will be interesting to see if their NHL teams slot them into top six positions right away, or whether they get third/fourth line minutes and are forced to earn their way into the upper end of the NHL depth charts. Gambrell may also crack the NHL quickly, but as a defensive forward, may have a different role than Terry and Borgström.
Hillman, a sixth round draft pick of Chicago in 2016, played in 123 games for the Pioneers and chalked up 31 points during his NCAA career. Hillman, a native of Elk River, Minn., was a steady and reliable defenseman for the Pioneers.
Denver coach Jim Montgomery seemed supportive of the signings of Terry, Borgström and Gambrell, tweeting the following quote on Monday night: “Thanks to our great seniors & underclassmen who will be in the NHL soon! Great kids from great families! [I am] Lucky to have coached you, thanks for being a Pioneer!”
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