DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.
Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.
“You can never have enough D," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways. He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp."
"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”
Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his skating and offensive ability.
"He likes to compare himself to Erik Karlsson quite a bit, which is good," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "When you watch him play, he's got that style to his game. You can sort of see he patterns his game after Erik. But he's honest too, he says I know I'm not Erik Karlsson, but I want to be my own player but I like the way he plays.
"Very likeable guy, upbeat kid, loves to play the game, has a passion for hockey. That's something that's always important because they're going to have to work their way up. Nothing comes easy even for players drafted this high. But you can tell he has a desire to keep getting better and to make it to the NHL."
He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.
As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.
He's only 17 years old and his defensive work needs improvement, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained a couple head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation, although Bowman denied having any concerns about that.
But there's clearly major upside if you're being compared to Karlsson as a best-case scenario.
"I think I need to improve my defensive play and need to be bigger and stronger," Boqvist said. "Of course, my offense can be better, too, so almost everything."