Terry, Borgström, Gambrell and Hillman All Leave Denver Early for NHL Contracts


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 [2017] 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!”


Stay tuned here for more singing news…



31 thoughts on “Terry, Borgström, Gambrell and Hillman All Leave Denver Early for NHL Contracts”

  1. No news will be good news. I say Monty goes if a top NHL job opens and he can get it. Who knows if we even make NCAA’s next season. His star won’t shine so brightly.. coaches are unfortunately in a business where you should make a move while hot; otherwise you may never get the chance again. This happens all the time in college hoops. Drexel coach had an offer from Rutgers at 4 times his salary. Stays because he thinks he can do better and loves Drexel. Drexel is awful next 3 years. Coach is at someplace like Assumption College now.


  2. It was nice to have all 3 back for the season that just ended. I initially thought that getting all 3 back for this season was a bonus. But looking back, it’s evident that it was in the best interests of all 3 to play college hockey this year before going pro.

    I was surprised to see that Troy is ranked only about 65th in all time scoring for DU, and that he only scored 14 goals this year. Yet he will be considered one of the top forwards in DU history. Kind of strange…I think that’s a testament to his creativeness, passing, and puck possession skills. What a uniquely great player.

    Borgstrom–what can you say. Just an awesome, fun player. He is certainly the most entertaining DU player that I have ever seen.

    Gambrell–just a smart hockey player. He obviously has mad skills. But I’ll also remember him for preserving the national championship with his blocked shots and defense during the last couple minutes of the championship game. An example of his team-first play.

    I wish all 3 the best! They created some awesome memories, and will stand out in Pioneer hockey history.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s a small chance Mitchell could leave too, with the lack of depth on Chicagos blue line. Next year will certainly be a rebuilding year. The additions of Larsen in net, Demin and McKinnon on D, and Guttman, MEP, and Budy up front help but we will still be a reach to make the tournament. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Monty jump, with teams like Chicago, St. Louis, Montreal, Washington, Calgary, Philadelphia, Carolina, Edmonton, Rangers, Ottawa, and San Jose potentially having job openings. The question then would be, “who replaces Monty”? David Carle, Steve Miller, a non DU connection?


  4. While four departures is a definite sad moment, there are some great recruits coming in for next season. Cole Guttman and Mathias Emilio Petterson are two very good centers who’ll certainly replace some of the production from Borgstrom and Gambrell.

    Next season, honestly, might resemble this season quite a bit record-wise. DU had a few missteps during the season and took losses where it shouldn’t – if the freshmen can stem the bleeding and the sophs/juniors continue to improve, this could be a deeper team than it may appear. It some ways, it feels reminiscent of the 2016-17 squad – some solid seniors like Luko, O’Connor, and Staub, plenty of junior talent like Finlay, McLellan and Davies.

    Losing top guys hurts, but the beauty of collegiate athletics is that reinforcements are usually already on the way..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m liking your optimism, Matt! Lukosevicius will be in a new role as the go-to guy for the offense, and it will be important for him to find some chemistry with new linemates. Heikennen is someone who can hopefully take his game to the next level, and Finlay will have to play a much more prominent role, too. These are all good players, but a couple of the incoming freshmen better be very good, if we are going to have the scoring depth that’s we’ll need.


  6. I love Matt Bick’s optimism, but I think next year is a rebuilding year for DU, and likely the year the Tenzer streak of 20+ wins and 11 straight NCAA tourney appearances comes to an end.

    The quality of the players DU lost simply cannot be replaced with freshmen, or the existing role players. DU must replace a first rounder (Borgstrom), an Olympian (Terry) and a second round talent (Gambrell). DU has had only three first round forwards in it’s entire history, and Borgstrom was by far the best of the three (far better than Joe Colborne and Beau Bennett). Borgstrom and Terry were generational talents, folks. They had the ability to take over a game and terrify opponents with dazzling skills and speed. Gambrell’s extensive abilities and work ethic were somewhat overshadowed by the dazzle factor of Terry and Borgstrom, but he was the most consistent of the three players. We have no one of that calibre on the team, nor coming in next season.

    The loss of Hillman, Hammond and Plant to the defense is a huge hit, too. That’s 11 years of high level college experience gone, as they guys were all top six guys from their arrival on campus. Mitchell has the potential to be a Pioneer great, while Davies, Mendel, Fear, etc. appear to have limited upsides at this point.

    Finally, DU’s goaltending is almost completely unproven after losing one of the two winningest goalies in school history in Tanner Jaillet. Dayton Rasmussen has a saves percentage of .882 in his five limited appearances as a freshman, which is well below NCHC standards. The incoming net minder, Filip Larsson, has never played a college game.

    That’s not to say some guys will improve with more ice time, but this is much more likely going to be a DU team that’s in the mid-pack. Don’t be surprised if DU gives up the Gold Pan next year, too. I hope I am wrong but that’s the reality as I see it.


      1. Yes, DT resigned. However the streak is officially known as the “Tenzer Streak”. Long live The Tenzer Streak, long live Pioneers, and especially, LONG LIVE BOONE.


    1. I don’t often disagree with Swami, but I think Davis could have a comeback junior year. As a freshman he was paired with Hammond all season and had 17 pints. This year his most common mate was Adam Plant and that is 2 Dmen at no more than 5’9″ weighing less than 170 lbs. He also skated with Hillman, Mendel and fear at various times. it would seem a stable linemate with size plus chemistry could put him on an upswing.


      1. Viz -Know your role. Stick to searching the internet to regurgitate stats and making cute fan girl posts!


  7. Congrats to all three of these guys. It’s a major downer knowing we won’t see them in a Pioneer sweater anymore, but being able to watch all three the last two years has been incredible.

    Before Borgstrom showed up, Matt Carle was the best DU player I’d ever seen. But Borgstrom was so electrifying. Every time he had the puck I anticipated something special.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Puck: 3 questions on finances
    1. $3.75 Million cap. Is that the total the 3 year entry signees can earn cumulatively over 3 years? If so, that means a player can earn roughly $900,000 more then the base contract.
    2. When does the money kick in? Say Terry plays more then 9 games , does he get $925,000 for this season and then the same for the next 2 seasons? Curious he if he plays 9 or less what he receives. Maybe a pro rata share of $925,000 + signing bonus.
    3. Why does a 5th rounder get same entry salary as a 1st rounder? Maybe 1st rounders get a larger signing bonus.

    If my questions are a pain, I’ll accept no response.


  9. I don’t often disagree with Swami, but I think Davis could have a comeback junior year. As a freshman he was paired with Hammond all season and had 17 pints. This year his most common mate was Adam Plant and that is 2 Dmen at no more than 5’9″ weighing less than 170 lbs. He also skated with Hillman, Mendel and fear at various times. it would seem a stable linemate with size plus chemistry could put him on an upswing.


    1. Viz:

      Davies is a very competent college defenseman, who has already proven he can perform at the NCHC level. But I don’t see him as being more than that, and it’s probably not fair to him to expect more. By the time a player hits his junior year in college hockey, you typically know where they fit, what they can do and how good they are going to be. He does what he does very well – he can angle an incoming forward, take him out of the play, carry the puck out of the d-zone on the rush, and he can make a decent first pass out of the d-zone. But is he guy that can QB a power-play, like Mitchell or Butcher can? Not really. He does not have the vision, anticipation, skating ability, shot or PP presence that Michell has to be an elite defenseman. Does he have strength to win corner battle with bigger guys? Not really. Obviously, he’s not big enough to be a quality shut-down defenseman at this or the next level, so you hope he can contribute in other ways, which he will. I just don’t see him as an elite level player.

      The only elite defenseman returning is Mitchell. Davies is notch below, and I would put Mendel and Fear a notch below Davies. Then Mostrom and Orgel are largely reserve players that you only play in emergencies.


      1. Not all players are “elite”, dude. I thought Davies played a far better game this past season than his freshman campaign. He is fine on the 2nd PP unit. He also doesn’t make a ton of glaring errors. It’s like you are tunnel visioned on stats…the games are won by more than just stats and he brings some of those intangibles.

        Carry on however, Mr Armchair Scout-wannabe….


  10. Congrats to Borgstrom on making the Hobey Hat Trick. Don’t get me wrong, I think he was the best player in college hockey. But I was slightly surprised to see that he made the cut. BUT THEN..I looked at the stats, and learned that he is quite a bit above Donato in scoring, and about 8 points behind Gaudette. Gaudette has a nice 30 goal, 30 assist mix. But Borgstrom gets the edge in terms of the conference he played in, and Northeastern didn’t make the FF, either. Does Borsgstrom have a chance to win the Hobey???


  11. He’s got a shot. Borgstrom’s best chance is to split the Eastern vote between Gaudette and Donato. Gaudette is the likely statistical favorite to win, But Harvard guys always do well in Hobey Voting, given the whole Ivy League origin story of Hobey Baker himself 100 years ago. Donato, with his Harvard/Olympic pedigree, probably pulls him at least even with Gaudette with the Eastern voters. The western voters would need to be strong for Borgstrom for this to happen, we’ll have to see. Donato’s great Olympic performance might be the difference maker, even though it should not be considered…


  12. Would like to see Borgstrom win, but I think Donato’s Olympic performance will swing the vote to him.

    FWIW Davies could be paired with incoming frosh Demin or Mackinnon both of whom have more size. With the right partner, better things to come.


  13. It would be a great thing for his coaching development. He’s only 28, but remember that he was a four year student assistant coach at DU before he even graduated, so he’s been coaching for 10 years now at the college and junior levels.


    1. Monty out the door right behind him to the NHL too. Hopefully Killer Miller considers returning to DU now that Peg is on her way out.


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