One player that has exemplified professionalism and leadership for the Nashville Predators in recent years is Mark Borowiecki, who is an Unrestricted Free Agent this offseason.
Borowiecki suffered this hit into the boards early in the 2022-23 season against the Philadelphia Flyers and has since been recovering from an injury you never take lightly:
As the only player on the Nashville Predators active roster to be a UFA this summer, the front office is leaving it up to Borowiecki on his decision to suit up again for the Predators.
What the Predators missed the most in Borowiecki’s near season-long absence from the ice was his on-ice leadership. He doesn’t stuff the stat sheet with flashy goals and assists, but his impact is immeasurable by a box score.
The Predators hang their hats on outworking the other team and being a menace for other teams to play against. Borowiecki has always prided himself on playing that type of style, and is why he is so beloved by both Nashville fans and also the loyal fans of the Ottawa Senators fanbase, Borowiecki’s first NHL team.
Where Could Boro Fit with the Nashville Predators in 2023-24?
If Borowiecki were to be re-signed to another one-year deal, then I have trouble figuring out how he gets anything more than a rotational role as the seventh defenseman.
This hinges on what happens with Alexandre Carrier this summer in his negotiations as a Restricted Free Agent and arbitration eligibility. If the Predators front office were to fail to reach a deal and lose Carrier, then re-signing Borowiecki becomes much more important.
You can’t underestimate the value of having a player like Borowiecki on your roster. A hard-hitting force on the blueline that sets the tone and does a lot of the thankless dirty work.
However, with the Predators drastically needing to get faster and build more offensive skill, I’m having a hard time seeing where Borowiecki ultimately fits back into the lineup.
When you look at all these options, with all of these players getting NHL playing time this past season in Borowiecki’s absence, I unfortunately just don’t see where you can find a place for him.
A lot of options that will have to be sorted out through the competition of training camp, but Gross or Stastney should be your frontrunners.
Borowiecki’s playing days shouldn’t be over, however. He still brings a lot of value to a team that has defensive gaps and really needs to beef up their physical element to the blueline. If he still wants to play and is health allows him to, then there should be several teams interested in him.
Borowiecki will be 34-years-old by the start of next season and has 458 NHL games under his belt, including 83 with Nashville dating back to 2019-20. He was third on the Predators in hits with 196 in 2021-22 and also led the team in PIM with 156.
If Borowiecki decides to hang the skates up for his playing days, then absolutely the hope is you can keep him around the organization in some other role. He’s the type of guy you want in your organization and being some type of a mentor to younger players coming up in the league.
Most importantly, here’s to the continued well wishes and good health to Borowiecki and that if he still has the desire to play, he lands on an NHL team and continues to get to play his physical brand of enforcer hockey that has been widely lost around the league.