When your game draws parallels with Erik Karlsson, you’re bound to generate hype.
That’s been the case for Swedish defenceman Adam Boqvist, who’s hoping to hear his name called as the second blueliner after Rasmus Dahlin. The merit of those lofty comparisons to Karlsson makes sense when examining Boqvist’s raw offensive tools, but there’s also a significant degree of risk attached when considering his questionable defensive acumen, small stature and concussion history.
It becomes all the more difficult to project his future when you consider his late birthday and the implications that might have on his development arc.
It’s those risks that caused Boqvist to slide in our rankings — clocking in as the 10th highest prospect in our top-100.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.08 / August 15, 2000
- Birthplace: Falun, SWE
- Frame: 5-foot-11 / 170 lbs
- Position: D
- Handedness: R
- Draft Year Team: Brynas IF(SHL)
TV-Pucken Bronze Medal
U16 Elit (West) Most Assists by Defenseman (28)
U16 Elit (West) Most Goals by Defenseman (15)
U16 Elit (West) Most Points by Defenseman (43)
J18 Allsvenskan (South) Most Goals by Defenseman (6)
J18 Allsvenskan (South) Most Points by Defenseman (14)
TV-Pucken Bronze Medal
TV-Pucken Most Goals by Defenseman (6)
TV-Pucken Most Valuable Player
U16 SM Bronze Medal
U16 SM Most Goals by Defenseman (5)
J18 Best U18 Defenseman
J18 Elit (West) Most Goals by Defenseman (8)
J20 SuperElit (Top) Most Goals by Defenseman (4)
J20 SuperElit (Top) Most Points by Defenseman (13)
U17 WHC Gold Medal
Hlinka Memorial Bronze Medal
J20 SuperElit (North) Most Goals by Defenseman (11)
U18 WJC Best Defenseman
U18 WJC Bronze Medal
U18 WJC Most Goals by Defenseman (3)
U18 WJC Most Points by Defenseman (6)
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Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
Few prospects end up earning their boom or bust label, but Boqvist could very well end up being one of those exceptions.
Offensively, there’s no doubting the elite tools and upside he possesses. Boqvist is a dynamic threat in transition where can both carry the puck through the neutral zone to lead a breakout, or use his pinpoint accurate passing ability to headman the puck with a crisp first-pass. He may not have the raw speed of Quinn Hughes when rushing the puck, but Boqvist’s arguably just as effective due to his effortless edgework and lightning fast hands. Those traits give him the elusiveness to get out of tight spaces in the defensive zone and weave in and out of traffic once he’s reached the middle third of the ice.
Putting that transition skillset together is Boqvist’s superior vision and habit of always keeping his head up. This swift processing ability means that he always has a knack for making the right decision with the puck. It’s an underrated talent, but one that stacks up favourably against other draft-eligible defencemen — namely Hughes and Bouchard — that have great transition tools, but are prone to occasional mental gaffes. Decision making can certainly improve with coaching, but it’s nice to see that Boqvist has developed that maturity already.
In the attacking zone, Boqvist looks the part of a premier power-play quarterback. It all starts with a heavy shot from the point that might just be the best among all blueliners in the draft class. His wrister checks off all the boxes of a lethal point shot — a slick release that allows him to rifle the puck even with little time or space, excellent velocity, and above-average accuracy that ensures the puck gets past traffic.
When the shooting lanes are clogged, Boqvist can adapt to connect passes in seams that open up as a result of the respect his shot commands. Creativity is apparent in spades due to his terrific mobility, stickhandling and awareness. Those skills go to work when he roams around in the offensive zone with the puck, looking to pull defenders out of their positions to create new space and lanes.
While the talent and results were both apparent in international tournaments, Boqvist had relatively uninspiring numbers in regular season play in Sweden. He finished a hair below a point-per-game in the Superelit — a league that’s inferior in quality to CHL competition.
Many are quick to point to Erik Karlsson as a statistical comparison, and while the resemblance holds merit, it’s important to realize that Karlsson’s production wasn’t all that impressive. It’s a big reason why he was drafted in the middle of the first-round in 2008.
In fact, Boqvist’s Superelit point per game pace was bested last year by 2017 15th overall pick Erik Brannstrom. Much like Boqvist, Brannstrom was one of the youngest players in his draft class and delivered good, albeit unspectacular numbers in the Swedish junior league.
Boqvist’s lacklustre production in the Superelit is reflected in Jeremy Davis’s SEAL rating, which adjusts scoring based on situation, era, age and league factors. Here, the 17-year-old Swede ranks 25th among draft-eligible defenceman for adjusted points per game.
An encouraging sign is that 14 of his 24 points were goals, though Byrnas’ standing as the top junior team in their division washes away the poor quality of teammate concerns.
Things didn’t get much better in the SHL and Allsvenskan, where he combined for just 3 points in 22 cumulative professional games. Paltry results were to be expected to an extent given Boqvist’s extremely young age and undersized stature, but the on-ice outcomes were far more grave than many would have anticipated.
With Boqvist on the ice in the SHL, Brynas controlled just 18.2% of goals scored. Limited ice-time in each of the games would have made for a substantially small sample size, but it’s concerning nonetheless.
Even at the junior level, Boqvist finished around the 60th percentile of defencemen in the league at controlling goals scored — having a negative impact on many of his teammates’ ability to control scoring.
Unsurprisingly, much of that has to do with his play without the puck. Boqvist was commonly criticized for a passive defensive approach, reactive positioning and weak physical engagement.
All this is concerning to say the least, but it’s important to recognize that he made notable strides defensively as the season wore on.
At the IIHF U18 Championships, Boqvist was proactive in his own zone, smart at reading the play to close time and space, and a lot more aggressive physically. He was effective at wedging his body between the puck and man to dispossess the puck carrier near the boards and along the corners. He showed to be weak on his skates, but that’s to be expected given his 170-pound frame — one that will undoubtedly become stronger as he matures physically. It was especially encouraging to see Boqvist try and line up his opposition for a couple of big hit attempts in open ice, showing that he’s becoming more confident in using his body defensively.
In the neutral zone, Boqvist has always flashed great lateral movement and anticipation when defending the rush. It’s a valuable asset that will continue to be a strength in the professional ranks.
Taking everything into account, it’s no wonder why scouts have labelled Adam Boqvist as the riskiest bet in the consensus top-10. He owns the elite offensive attributes to become the second-best defenceman after Rasmus Dahlin, though his underwhelming junior production, size and concussion history give teams reason to pause. Boqvist is improving in his own end much like Quinn Hughes did, but the former remains much further away because of his late birthday and thus harder to project. We’re wary of all these concerns, which is why he’s fallen a lot lower in our rankings relative to the industry consensus.
Having said that, if Boqvist can silence the critics and work on his weaknesses, he’ll make every team who passes up on him after the top-4 look like fools.
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A dynamic offensive defenceman that can carry plays with the puck on his stick. A highly mobile and nimble skater that moves with fluidity, balance, and confidence. Utilizes an active stick and creates turnovers frequently. Could be more proactive in his own end, but has shown progression in understanding lanes and reading unfolding plays; most of his best defensive work comes through the neutral zone, as there is a lot less time and space to work with, and it is in those moments that Boqvist shines.
Offensively, Boqvist is electric; he has the toolbox of a top line forward. Slick puckhandling ability paired with excellent vision and positional awareness makes him a dangerous threat every time he is on the ice. He also takes advantage of the attention and bodies he draws towards himself in creating space for teammates. All-in-all, Adam Boqvist is a complete offensive defenseman who knows how to get the puck from point A to the back of the net and can make it happen all by himself.
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CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings