General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen checked off a big item on his summer to-do list yesterday, signing defenseman Adam Boqvist to a three year contract extension. The deal comes in with a team-friendly $2.6m AAV, which makes Adam the third highest paid defenseman on the team, based on AAV.
Acquired last summer as a key part of the trade that sent Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks, Boqvist had an injury riddled first season with the Blue Jackets, playing in just 52 games. But, he was a solid contributor when in the lineup, scoring 11 goals and 22 points, and anchoring the team’s second power play unit.
At this point in his career, Boqvist is a second pairing defenseman, but the upside here is huge and he could develop into a top pairing guy. He’s a great skater who rushes the puck well and creates chances in transition, often playing like an extra forward in the attack. He has a very good wrist shot and good vision, finding passing and shooting lanes, and creating chances in a flash. While his defensive zone play needs work, he will only be 22 when training camp kicks off this fall and has plenty of time to sort things out.
Obviously keeping him healthy and in the lineup is crucial, but for Jarmo and the Blue Jackets, this is a quality young player and an important part of the future. They locked up a guy who should play top-4 minutes for this team, at an extremely palatable cap hit. While the contract is back-loaded, the qualifying offer for Boqvist will be just $3.2m – and he will still be under team control at that point.
This move leaves the team with just six remaining restricted free agents: Patrik Laine, Emil Bemstrom, Nick Blankenburg, Gabriel Carlsson, Trey Fix-Wolansky, and Kevin Stenlund. At this point, the team has just under $17m worth of cap space to work with. Assuming Laine eats up $8-10m of that space, they still have some cap flexibility to get the other key pieces here locked up, and perhaps add to the roster if they choose to do so.
Boqvist was likely the second most important RFA deal the team had to deal with this summer (behind Laine), and they got it done early and at a reasonable cost. This is very well done, in my opinion.