On Tuesday morning, the Chicago Blackhawks signed their 2017 first round pick Henri Jokiharju.
Winterhawk ➡️ Blackhawk
Defenseman Henri Jokiharju has agreed to terms on a three-year contract! pic.twitter.com/fbcCUlvpsP
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) June 12, 2018
This was a big move for a few reasons. The most obvious being that the Hawks have added another young player that could make an impact within a year or so. That means Jokiharju will most likely start the year in Rockford. It wouldn’t shock me to see him up towards the end of next season though.
Either way, Jokiharju will develop under the Hawks’ watch. He is an elite skater and has a lot of skill with the puck. He also excels on the power-play, which is something the current Hawks struggle with quite a bit.
Now, this signing shouldn’t stop the Hawks from taking a defenseman with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The defense still is fairly thin, especially withDuncan Keith and Brent Seabrook aging quickly. The Hawks need to have players to plug in once Kieth and Seabrook hang up the skates.
After Tuesday, the Hawks got off to a decent start of trying to rebuild their defense. They can make another step in the right direction by drafting Adam Boqvist, a defenseman from Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League.
Boqvist’s statistics don’t do him justice. In 25 games, Boqvist scored 14 goals, recorded 10 assists, and also had five points in three playoff games. Every defenseman in this year’s draft seems to be getting compared to the top Swedish player, Dasmus Rahlin. I will not do that here, but he has very similar qualities of the future first overall pick.
This article will take a look at the defenseman’s skill-set and potential fit with the Hawks.
There are a ton of defensemen that can flat out skate in this upcoming draft. Boqvist is no different. I would describe Boqvist as a nimble skater, who never seems to be caught sitting still. He is always moving, whether it be trying to jump in on a rush in the offensive zone or getting back after a turnover. His strides look smooth on tape, and that’s probably because of the fact that he is balanced at all times. He is at his best when he is using his agility and speed to blow past opposing players in the offensive zone.
Speaking of the offensive zone, that’s where Boqvist is at his best. That does seem odd when describing a defenseman, but it’s the truth. Boqvist has been described as “electric” in the offensive zone. He has the tools of a top line forward. He is one of, if not the best, stick handling defenseman in the draft. He also isn’t afraid to let a wrister go from the point. That’s probably because Boqvist has a very quick wrist shot.
He can create scoring chances, which usually end up turning into goals.
Scouts have said Boqvsit has one of the hardest shots in this year’s draft. Yet, he doesn’t utilize the one-timer much, which makes the 14 goals he scored even more impressive.
Boqvist’s hands also help him in his own zone.
The best attribute Boqvist has a d-man is an active stick. That active stick creates a lot of turnovers, especially in the neutral zone. As I touched on earlier, his stick handling is also fantastic. That combined with his speed makes him deadly combination when leading an odd-man rush.
In the video below, those quick hands create a turnover, scoring chance, and goal.
This next clip makes him look like a center.Nick Schmaltz or Boqvist?
Passing is also a strength of the young 17-year-old. Like Jokiharju, Boqvist can quarterback a power-play. Again, this is something that the Hawks are desperately lacking at the moment. Imagine Jokiharju and Boqvist together on a man advantage. Scary.
Room for Improvement
While Boqvist is considered a complete offensive defenseman, there is room for improvement in some areas. Sometimes Boqvist can be so distracted about what’s going on in the offensive zone that he forgets about his assignments on defense. Therefore, his positioning can be off at times as well. Only experience and good coaching will fix that.
He also gets in trouble when big forward body him on the boards. At 170 pounds, Boqvist needs to rely on his active stick to get him out of physical situations. He could also benefit from building his upper body strength. With that being said, Boqvist will start in the minors no matter who selects him in the upcoming draft.
Boqvist’s film is fun to watch. He can create something out of nothing, especially with his great hands. There are concerns about him as a “true” NHL defenseman, but his upside on offense will make him a top 10 pick on June 22nd.
At times, Boqvist reminds me of a Gustav Forsling type player with a more active and overall better stick. As I’ve talked about many times before, the new prototypical NHL defenseman is a slightly undersized player, who can make a difference in the opposing team’s zone. Boqvist fits the bill.
Depending on who is left on the board, I can see general manager Stan Bowman spending the No. 8 pick on Boqvist. It’s hard to see him slipping out of the top 10 with teams like the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators there. I can’t stop thinking about what a pairing of Henri Jokiharju and Adam Boqvist would look like. Sign me up.
Check out my other scouting reports below.