Adam Boqvist was one of the key pieces acquired by the Blue Jackets in the trade that sent star defenseman Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks. But two years removed from the deal, we find ourselves asking the same question: what is Adam Boqvist’s ceiling in the NHL?
D Adam Boqvist
6’0″, 182 pounds
2022-23 stats: 46 games played, 5G, 19A, 24Pts, -12, 8PIMs
Acquired: Traded from Chicago July 23, 2021
(Originally drafted 1st round, #8 overall, 2018 NHL Draft)
Contract: $2.6m AAV through 2024-25
Role: Top four defenseman
It’s not that Adam Boqvist has been bad, or not productive. In fact, when he’s been healthy, he’s looked the part of a high-end puck moving defenseman, able to play the game like a fourth forward and help create offense. The problem has been his inability to stay healthy; he’s played just 98 of a possible 182 games since joining the Jacket organization.
Last season, he was producing in a different stratosphere; scoring at roughly a 64-point pace for more than a quarter of the season. This kind of production would have set the CBJ record for most points by a defenseman (Seth Jones, 57pts, 2017-18), had it not been for his injury mishaps. This came in a season where the Jackets were one of the worst teams in the league, struggling to get much of anything right. So, as we asked in the first paragraph, just how good can Adam Boqvist be?
Right now, it’s hard to nail down. Clearly, he has the offensive skillset to play in the top-four and be a difference maker. But it’s hard to pinpoint him in the future plans of a team that just signed Damon Severson to an 8-year contract; with top prospect David Jiricek knocking on the door, and steady Corson Ceulemans not far behind. This season feels like a make or break year for Boqvist with the Jackets, and it all starts the moment training camp opens up. He’ll have to win his spot and keep it, which will be no easy task.
Three keys to success
- Do your thing. New head coach Mike Babcock is going to look for guys who can keep the puck and make plays, which is exactly what Adam Boqvist does best. This gives him an inside track right off the hop.
- Stay healthy. Assuming he makes the roster, this one is crucial for his future on this team. If he can stay healthy, this is the kind of player that can be wildly successful under Babcock’s tutelage.
- Improve defensively. Coach loves offense and I do think this will work with Boqvist. But in today’s NHL, everyone has to carry their weight defensively. He doesn’t need to be throwing his weight around or blocking shots, but he has to at least maintain par in his own end, if he’s going to be an elite player in this league.
We think Boqvist will start the season in a prominent role for this team. In fact, I have him penciled into the top pairing alongside Zach Werenski, which is how the team started off last season. Why is it different this time? Well, this team will be playing a system that thrives on puck possession and skill; and these guys are best suited for that job. The one wildcard here is Jiricek – if he pushes for ice time, that could make Adam Boqvist an expendable piece. But, I would be leery to trade him at the moment… Jarmo could be selling low on an asset that is about to explode onto the scene.