Blackhawks

How soon before we see Adam Boqvist with the Blackhawks?

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Detroit Red Wings

How soon before we see Adam Boqvist with the Blackhawks?

Before departing for Europe, the Blackhawks assigned top defenseman prospect Adam Boqvist to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. But it wasn’t because of performance reasons.

The organization feels like its No. 8 overall pick in 2018 could benefit from starting the season in the AHL to get acclimated to the pro style of game before playing against NHL players full time.

“Yeah, we don’t need to be in a hurry with him,” coach Jeremy Colliton said on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. “We want to make sure he can play the way we want him to play long-term here. If that means some time in Rockford, I think that’s a positive to have some time to adjust to the pro game.

"Last year was a big jump for him, just coming over to North America and on the small ice, so I would expect the pro jump to be an adjustment. It’s not going to be smooth all the time, but I am impressed with how he’s done so far and even the leap, I think, from Traverse City to now he’s taken a step. Really excited about what he’s going to end up looking like in, not that long in the future. I don’t think he’s that far away.”

The question now is, when could we see Boqvist with the Blackhawks? The answer is a little complicated.

The Blackhawks are very high on what he brings to the table, but it’s a crowded blue line right now. Five defensemen (Calvin de Haan, Duncan Keith, Olli Maatta, Connor Murphy and Brent Seabrook) are under contract until at least the 2021-22 season and the other is Erik Gustafsson, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer but has been the offensive driving force on the back end for the Blackhawks.

And to add to it all: Boqvist is a slide candidate again, which means if he plays in nine or fewer NHL games this season, his entry-level contract won’t kick in until next season. 

If he’s ready, the Blackhawks won’t hesitate to call him up. They’re not going to get in the way of his progression. But they also won't call him up if he’s going to serve as the fifth or sixth defenseman. They want him playing a big role when he gets to Chicago, not just trying to stay above water, and for those reasons we may not see Boqvist with the Blackhawks full-time until next season.

Depending on what the Blackhawks do with Gustafsson, who may get priced out of Chicago in the offseason, Boqvist might be the perfect candidate to slide into that top-four role and quarterback the first power play unit.

“Adam has shown progress just looking back to where he was a year ago and where he is now,” GM Stan Bowman said. “For him, the question has never been the talent level or the offensive ability. When he's got the puck he can do some pretty special things. He's got a unique skillset to be able to complement the offensive players and do things with the puck, so the question was just how was he going to be when he doesn't have it? I think he's really made some strides.

“His progression has been noticeable. I think he hasn't arrived yet and it's going to be a process to get him comfortable defending and playing without the puck. He's such a good skater though that he can influence the play and the biggest thing for a defenseman is, if you have a good gap you can force the other team to do things quick. When you back in a lot, you give them a chance to make plays. His quickness is noticeable and he can use his feet to defend."

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What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

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AP

What 1,000 NHL points means to Patrick Kane and what's next for Blackhawks superstar

It was never a matter of if and only a matter of when Patrick Kane would reach 1,000 career NHL points. He tried his best not to let it creep into his mind as he got closer to the number, but it was difficult not to.

Kane entered Sunday's game sitting at 999 points after picking up one the night before on Hockey Night in Canada to extend his point streak to nine games. He needed only one more to make history and did so, fittingly, in front of a sold-out United Center crowd of 21,487.

Kane recorded the secondary assist on Brandon Saad's goal in the third period to make it 4-1 and the entire team left the bench to mob Kane thanks to captain Jonathan Toews, who orchestrated the ordeal and cleared it with league officials. 

"What a moment, obviously, with everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that moment with me," Kane said following a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. "You see some faces in that pile that have been a big part of a lot of those points, whether it’s been [Toews] or [Duncan Keith] or [Alex] DeBrincat recently, [Saad] to finish it off I think was pretty cool. ... As far as everyone coming onto the ice and sharing that with me is something I’ll never forget."

Kane became the youngest American-born player to hit the 1,000-point mark and fourth player in Blackhawks history to accomplish that feat, joining Denis Savard (1,096), Bobby Hull (1,153) and Stan Mikita (1,497). Only 89 other players in NHL history are part of the 1,000-point club; Kane makes it 90.

[RELATED: Kane first star interview]

"He's one of those elite players," Brandon Saad said. "He's one of those few who can achieve goals like that. All you can say is good things about him. He's a special player. He keeps getting better with age. He's fun to play with."

It was a memorable night in Chicago, but there was something missing. Kane’s parents couldn't attend due to inclement weather in their hometown of Buffalo. His dad, Pat Kane Sr., made it to all 41 home games last season.

“It’s tough not having them here,” Kane said. “They’ve been a big part of my career. I’m sure I’ll talk to them after this and hopefully there will be some better moments in the future that they’ll be here for.”

Kane’s list of accolades in his NHL career is only getting longer and will continue to get longer. Three Stanley Cups. Conn Smythe Trophy recipient. Art Ross Trophy winner. League MVP. Now a member of the 1,000-point club.

"It’s special," Kane said. "I’ve been very fortunate in my career, whether it’s been getting drafted by Chicago or making some decisions when I was younger to move away at 14 years old, a freshman in high school, forgo college and play in London for a year.

"Obviously, Chicago winning the lottery, getting drafted by Chicago, then having a lot of good pieces in place here with some great players where we could turn the corner pretty fast and become a good team. There were a lot of things that were lined up. When you reach a milestone like this you think of all those players you played with that had a big part of it. It’s been a fun ride."

Even though he’s accomplished just about everything in his hockey life, Kane is still hungry for more.

[RELATED: Kane's road to 1,000 career points]

So what’s next?

"1,001," Kane laughed. "Start there and then move forward."

But really, there's only one goal.

"Maybe a few more Cups," Kane said to Chicago crowd after being named No. 1 star of the game. "That would be nice, right?"

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Patrick Kane receives the championship belt from Jonathan Toews after getting to 1K

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USA TODAY

Patrick Kane receives the championship belt from Jonathan Toews after getting to 1K

Patrick Kane added a special milestone onto the Blackhawks' fifth-straight win, scoring the 1,000th point of his NHL career.

Kane was emotional after the overall awesome night capped off by his amazing feat. Jonathan Toews made sure that Kane received the "championship belt" that the Blackhawks give to the team's top player after every win. Toews called it a  "no brainer" of a decision. 

Kane was overjoyed and emotional speaking tp his teammates, stating, "that was absolutely unreal, obviously getting 1,000 points but having you guys come on the ice there and share it with me was a great moment."

Obviously the big focus on the night was Kaner's amazing career achievement but even he wanted to make sure the overall team success doesn't go unnoticed. Kane knows how confident the team is right now and wants to keep the wins going. 

[RELATED: Patrick Kane makes NHL history]

"It's been fun here for a long time," stated Kane, and with 1,000 career points and No. 88 hopefully a Chicago Blackhawk for the rest of his career, it will be fun for much, much longer.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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