Adam Boqvist

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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Five Blackhawks make top 100 prospect list

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USA TODAY

Five Blackhawks make top 100 prospect list

After missing the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Blackhawks are in a transition period coming off the team’s long run as a Stanley Cup contender. There is hope for a relatively quick return to contention with a number of highly-regarded prospects.

ESPN ranked the top 100 NHL prospects on Wednesday and the Blackhawks have five skaters on the list.

Leading the way for Blackhawks prospects is Kirby Dach, who was the third pick in this year’s draft. He is ranked No. 6 overall. The top two picks from that draft, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, are the top two prospects in the rankings.

Adam Boqvist is the second Blackhawks prospect, coming in at No. 29 overall. The defenseman was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 draft.

Defensemen Ian Mitchell (No. 68) and Nicolas Beaudin (No. 82) and right winger Alexander Nylander (No. 88) round out Blackhawks prospects in the top 100. Mitchell opted to return to the University of Denver for his junior year. Beaudin was the Blackhawks’ second first-round pick in 2018, picked No. 27. Nylander was acquired in the offseason in exchange for young defenseman Henri Jokiharju.

With five prospects on the list the Blackhawks had more than most teams. The Los Angeles Kings had the most prospects on the list with seven while the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers each had six.

ESPN also ranked the Blackhawks pool of prospects as ninth-best in the NHL.

 

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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: Adam Boqvist is 'ready to be a pro'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: Adam Boqvist is 'ready to be a pro'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman hinted at the possibility of this earlier in the summer but he made it official on Friday: Adam Boqvist is turning pro.

Boqvist spent the 2018-19 season with the London Knights in the OHL, where he compiled 60 points (20 goals, 40 assists) in 54 games and led all defensemen with 10 goals in 11 postseason contests. He made significant strides in his development as he got accustomed to the North American style of hockey and the Blackhawks are ready to bring him over to the organization.

“I think Adam's made enough progress," Bowman said. "The biggest thing with him was always just the physicality and the strength and I thought he put in a lot of work. I got to give him credit, especially this summer, even last year during the season. But he still has to continue to mature and develop physically but he's ready to be a pro.”

If Boqvist doesn’t make the Blackhawks out of training camp, he will start the season with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. Not only will the team be able to have more of a hands-on role in his development, but they’ll now be able to call him up at any moment.

"I think the drawback to going back to junior is you don't have the access to him then for the whole season,” Bowman said. “So he's a player we're going to want to have access to whether he's in Chicago or nearby in Rockford."

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