Blackhawks

Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp

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AP

Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp

When development camp rolled around in mid-July, all eyes were on No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist, who had immediately become Chicago's top prospect.

That hasn't been the case in training camp.

We're one week in and the storylines have been dominated by Corey Crawford's status, Connor Murphy's back injury that could now sideline him up to 12 weeks and what it means for the defense, Henri Jokiharju's chances at making the big club and the new forward lines, most notably Brandon Saad being put with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz.

Why? Because all the attention in September is how the Blackhawks are going to bounce back after missing the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. And also, because Boqvist may still be 2-3 years away from playing in the NHL on a full-time basis.

Still, the Blackhawks very much are monitoring his progression this week and view him as a big part of the future. They got their first glimpse of Boqvist in game action in Tuesday's preseason opener vs. Columbus, which admittedly wasn't his best game —  he was on the ice for six shot attempts for and 16 against at even strength, the worst differential on the team — but the most important part of it was simply getting a feel for the pace and the size of the players he's going up against.

"I was a little nervous when I saw Seth Jones, those types of players, I've looked up to them, so that was a little bit [nerve-wracking]," Boqvist said. "But you're there for one thing, so go out and play your best game.

"I think I did pretty well out there. The game was not the best one, but a preseason game is a preseason game, so I hope I can [make] some steps."

Asked how important it was to actually get thrown into a game rather than a team practice or scrimmage, Boqvist didn't undermine it even though it was only a preseason game.

"It's huge," he said. "It's not like back home in Sweden at the juniors. It was a huge difference. How you can defend on smaller ice and when you should go or not go. I've learned a lot from the older guys here and hope they can help me this season."

From development camp to team practices and scrimmages to preseason games, coach Joel Quenneville is impressed with what he sees early on and had some high praise for the 18-year-old defenseman.

"Good, good," he said. "We liked him. We think that he can make some real special plays. Real good patience and play recognition. High end. Terrific shot. Deceptive as well.

"Watching him in the summer as well, he's got a great level of skill, play recognition, patience with possession of the puck. He's going to learn quickly that you got bigger guys, guys that know how to play and hold onto the puck and how to defend those situations in tight areas and with possession against you, so that's one of the learning curves that he's going through. But overall, he's what you call smooth as [Duncan Keith] says or [Patrick Kane] says."

Boqvist will be playing in Thursday's preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, and will likely play a larger role in it with the top guys on the blue line staying home. It could also be his last one, with the OHL's London Knights season beginning Friday.

The Blackhawks want to make sure Boqvist is maximizing his experience here while he is around the Duncan Keith's and Brent Seabrook's, before taking everything he learned with him to London ahead of a crucial year of development.

"It's so cool to be around these NHL players," Boqvist said. "I try to enjoy so much here and take all the stuff I can from the guys here, so hope they can help me."

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

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USA TODAY

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

The Blackhawks got a pleasant surprise on Friday when Brandon Davidson joined the team for morning skate after having knee surgery on Nov. 27 to clean up his meniscus.

He was expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. But just two weeks into his recovery, the 27-year-old defenseman returned to the ice and has skated in three of the past four days. He's way ahead of schedule and even Davidson is a little surprised by it.

"Sooner than expected, for sure," he said. "When I was told 6-8 weeks, that seemed like forever. But here I am two and a half weeks and I'm on the ice. I'm almost at full workouts. Still having trouble with range of motion, but very happy with how things are going."

The injury happened on Nov. 12 when the Blackhawks were in Carolina. Davidson took a hit that caused his knee to "blow up," which was initially believed to take only a few days to heal. But after the swelling didn't get any better, the Blackhawks felt a minor operation was necessary.

"Fairly easy quick fix," Davidson said. "No real damage, but something that we had to get under control."

Davidson is still at least a couple away weeks from returning to game action, but once he is cleared, there's no guarantee he'll have a spot waiting for him. The Blackhawks had nine defensemen on the ice during Friday's morning skate, showing just how crowded the blue line is.

"It’s great," coach Jeremy Colliton said of having Davidson back on the ice. "More guys healthy, more competition we have for ice and spots. It’s not like he’s ready to come back, but good to see him on the ice. " 

At some point in the near future, the Blackhawks will have to make some roster decisions — perhaps even before the league-wide holiday freeze starting on Dec. 19. But Davidson isn't worried about where he fits in. He can only control what he can control, and getting back to 100 percent is his No. 1 priority right now.

"You know what, I haven't thought a lot about it," Davidson said. "I can definitely see that the numbers are up on the back end, but I feel that when it's time for me to do my job, I can do that to the best of my abilities and I can play for my job."

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Check out Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's sweet 2019 Winter Classic helmet

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USA TODAY

Check out Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's sweet 2019 Winter Classic helmet

Corey Crawford's helmet for the 2019 NHL Winter Classic was revealed on Friday, and it's very easy on the eyes. Take a look:

So fresh, so clean. The Blackhawks unveiled their jerseys for the 2019 Winter Classic last month, paying homage to the team's 1934 uniform. Crawford's helmet obviously follows this trend, using the same color theme and logo.

Played on New Year's Day, the Winter Classic provides NHL teams with the opportunity to wear special occasion uniforms for the annual game. The Blackhawks, appearing in their fourth Winter Classic, are no stranger to this. 2019 will be their fourth appearance in the outdoor event, taking on the Bruins on at Notre Dame Stadium.

Previously, the Blackhawks faced the Red Wings at Wrigley Field (2009); the Capitals at Nationals Park (2015); and the Blues at Busch Stadium (2017). They are looking for their first win in the event, though, as they lost all three of their previous appearances in regulation. 

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