Adam Boqvist

Blackhawks lock up 2018 first-round pick Nicolas Beaudin

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks lock up 2018 first-round pick Nicolas Beaudin

The Blackhawks announced Friday that they have agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with defenseman Nicolas Beaudin that runs through the 2020-21 season. He will remain with the Drummondville Voltigeurs is the Quebec Major Hockey League.

The Blackhawks have now locked up both of their first-round picks from 2018 in Adam Boqvist (No. 8 overall) and Beaudin (No. 27 overall).

Beaudin, 19, has one goal and eight assists in nine games this season. He compiled a team-leading 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 regular-season games in 2017-18 and was named to the QMJHL second All-Star team.

Given how successful 2017 first-round pick Henri Jokiharju has looked a year removed from his draft, it’s not unreasonable to think Beaudin could compete for a full-time roster spot on the Blackhawks next season. But they can afford to be more patient with him, given the possibility of Boqvist making that jump to the NHL next season and avoiding the complication of breaking in their top young defensemen prospects all at once.

It might be more likely Beaudin starts next season with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League and start his professional development there.

Why Blackhawks made decision to assign Adam Boqvist to OHL before camp ended

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AP

Why Blackhawks made decision to assign Adam Boqvist to OHL before camp ended

After turning heads in training camp, the Blackhawks made the decision on Wednesday to assign No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist to the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, where he will continue his development under close watch by the organization.

Coach Joel Quenneville hinted earlier in the week that Boqvist could participate in each of the final three preseason games, but there were a few instances on Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings where he was getting bodied around against NHL-level players rather than the prospects he had gone up against towards the beginning of preseason. That's one of the big reasons why he needs at least another year to develop, to grow into his frame and get used to playing against men. It's important to remember he just turned 18 in August, so there's still lots of room for him to grow physically.

"We said yesterday we wanted to make sure we were doing right by him," Quenneville said of Boqvist. "He's a young kid and we want him playing a lot. London's a pretty good place for any young junior player. It's a good spot for him this year, he's going to be in one place and I think it's a lot for a young guy at that age. We're thinking long-term, let's do what's right for his development and we felt that was the best decision."

Skill wise, his ceiling is whatever he wants it to be. The self-invited Erik Karlsson comparisons are obvious. It's why he made the Blackhawks give him a longer look at camp. That upside was evident.

"He really enhanced our thought process and where he belongs with our team and our organization and he really moved up the ladder a bit in some consideration in being here this long," Quenneville said. "Looking like he can be on your power play, he can help your team in a lot of ways and certainly got a lot of upside."

While it was fun for Chicago to think of the possibilities about Boqvist potentially starting the season on the Opening Night roster, this always felt like the most logical course of action. Keep him in training camp to absorb as much as he can from the veterans and take it back with him to the Knights, where he can apply all that information he learned.

"Younger guys have a lot of respect for some of the guys that have been here and the success that they have experienced," Quenneville said after Wednesday's practice. "You get a chance to talk to them or watch them, you can absorb so much. Their professionalism, the way they work out in the gym, how they prepare going into a practice, how they play games, what they say on the bench. Combination of the regular routine, how we play in practices, how we play in games and then you got [Duncan Keith] telling you where to go or be confident on the power play or be aware of this guy or that guy. Go here or go there.

"It makes you better at learning from somebody like Duncs who has been there and is a special player in that regard. They're comparable in ways when I say that they're not big defensemen and they rely on their assets and their skills and their quickness. But when we make a decision on Adam it's going to be what's best for him long-term in his career."

Now, Boqvist could still play in up to nine regular-season games this season without burning the first year of his entry-level deal even though he won't be starting the year on the team. It just may not work out that way. 

The Knights regular season ends in mid-March, but they're more likely to play into May because they're one of the favorites to win the OHL championship. There might be a better chance of Boqvist joining the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League if their season is still going on, similar to what Victor Ejdsell by hopping on board during last season's playoff run.

"That's so far away," Quenneville said of the possibility. "We'll see how that all plays out but I'm sure he's looking forward to playing on a good team [in London] and it's a great place to play junior hockey."

Cam Ward won't let 'embarrassing' United Center debut with Blackhawks ruin his training camp

Cam Ward won't let 'embarrassing' United Center debut with Blackhawks ruin his training camp

Cam Ward's United Center debut as a Blackhawk couldn't have gone any worse. After allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced, he bounced back by stopping seven in a row to end the first period, but gave up four goals on eight shots in the second for an overall save percentage of .647.

The original plan was for Ward to play the full game, but Anton Forsberg was forced to come on in relief for the third period to help stop the bleeding in a meaningless game.

"Not good," Ward said following Tuesday's 8-6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. "Definitely was a rough game for me personally. Obviously got off to a rough start right from the get go, they got a fortunate bounce right in front and put it in and unfortunately just wasn't able to get comfortable throughout the game. It's just one of those games, whether it's preseason or not, you want to put forth a good outing and a good effort and tonight just wasn't the night. I'm going to do what I can to flush it away and not let it ruin my training camp and just get ready for the next one."

It's unfair to fault Ward for a few of them without looking at the defensive breakdowns that led to the goals, but there were a couple he would have certainly liked to have back. The 14-year veteran has been around long enough to know these games happen occasionally, but it doesn't make it any easier to reconcile with the final result.

"Any time you let in six it's embarrassing as a goaltender," Ward said. "But like I said you don't want to overanalyze or overthink it. Unfortunately games like this sometimes happen but at the end of the day it doesn't count and I don't want it to ruin my training camp."

With Corey Crawford unlikely to be ready by Opening Night, Ward is expected to shoulder the load until their starter is cleared to return between the pipes. Chicago is counting on the 34-year-old with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume who signed a one-year deal in the offseason to be a solid placeholder for the time being and backup because he can handle it physically and the ups and downs mentally.

A performance like Tuesday's doesn't exactly do much to reinforce the Blackhawks' confidence that Ward can do so, but at the same time picking apart a fluky preseason game isn't the best way to evaluate the bigger picture. The good news is that it didn't have any impact on the standings.

'Well, it’s one game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "40 minutes, preseason game. We’ll throw it in the basket. Goaltending tonight, pucks were going in at both ends at an abnormal rate. You have a few games like that over the course of a season. Good thing it was preseason."

Here are four other takeaways from the loss:

2. Dominik Kahun leaving strong impression

With every practice and preseason game that goes by, Kahun is making it difficult on the Blackhawks coaching staff to leave him off the 23-man roster because all he's done is take control of his opportunity. And it's hard to see him not making it at this point.

After scoring a goal in Friday's preseason content against the Ottawa Senators and whose line was most effective when it comes to puck possession numbers, Kahun was promoted to the top line with Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews the next practice to get a stronger look at what he can do against top players and heavier minutes. He hasn't looked out of place since.

A crafty 23-year-old forward, Kahun stood out once again on Tuesday against the Red Wings after scoring a goal by batting the puck out of mid-air, recording seven shot attempts (two on goal), two blocked shots and one takeaway. He also had a breakaway opportunity in the first period.

"I think in camp you can see who's got skills, who can move, who can skate, who can handle the puck," said Toews, who had two goals and an assist. "When you get into games, you see a guy like Dominik has all that but he has a lot of hockey sense, too. As a line, just trying to talk about the little things. I guess I've been known to put too much in some guys heads something but we had some talks this morning as far as where we wanted to play with the puck and he went out there and he was in all the right areas. Nice to see him get one early in the game. I thought he played great in a lot of ways."

3. Adam Boqvist's audition

The Blackhawks have kept Boqvist around because they want to give him a serious look at what he can do playing with and against high-end players. Tuesday was his first real test at that and there were times where he got bodied around a little bit.

He and Brandon Manning struggled as a pairing at 5-on-5 after they were on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and 16 against, but Boqvist was one of four players on the Blackhawks who finished with a multi-point effort and looked effective quarterbacking the first power play unit.

"I thought he did some good things on the power play," Quenneville said. "Defensively there was some room to improve upon, but he still does some things you appreciate."

4. New-look power play paying off early

The Blackhawks changed up their power play format to a 1-3-1 scheme this season, and it's had some early success. For the second straight preseason game they found the back of the net with the man advantage, with two goals coming on Tuesday.

While they allowed a shorthanded goal late in the game, the Blackhawks registered 14 shot attempts on six opportunities and look solid in just about every facet. They were generating chances and didn't have any momentum-killers.

"The power play was dangerous," Quenneville said. "I thought our power play did some really nice things off the rush, on entries, we shot the puck, we had net presence, we had retrievals, we had different plays and different looks. It was good."

5. Top guns leading the way

The Blackhawks need their top guys to be their top guys this season if they want any chance at getting back to the playoffs. It was a good start on Tuesday.

Kane (three assists), Toews (two goals, one assist) and Duncan Keith (one goal, two assists) all had three-point outings in the loss and led the charge.

"Kaner was special, Jonny at the net and our net presence was better than we've seen," Quenneville said. "Our guys from the top are shooting pretty well."