Blackhawks' Boqvist looking sharp at camp
A man among boys.
That's exactly what defenseman Adam Boqvist -- just 18 years old himself -- looked like during a Blackhawks development camp scrimmage at Fifth Third Arena on Friday.
Boqvist, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2018 draft, put on a show that had the 200 or so in attendance doing double-takes and gasping in awe all morning.
The move of the game came less than four minutes in when Boqvist raced into the offensive zone and fed the puck between his legs -- to himself, mind you -- while under pressure from Josh Ess. A split second later, Boqvist fed teammate Josiah Slavin, and Slavin easily scored into a wide-open net.
So what was going through Boqvist's mind when he zipped around Ess?
"I have no idea," he said while breaking into a wide smile. "It just happened. I'm just trying to not think about (the) play. It's in my bag. So just play."
Boqvist, whose Team Red prevailed 6-5, pulled off a couple of other impressive moves and also played solid defensively.
If he plays like this during training camp, it figures to be awfully difficult for the Hawks to keep him off the opening-night roster.
"You saw some of the things that he can do out there on the ice today," said Mark Eaton, the Hawks' Director of Player Development. "(It's) kind of finding out for himself which of those moves will work at whatever level he's playing, and learning to play against bigger, stronger, faster guys (because he's) an undersized defenseman.
"His progression over this past year was phenomenal."
Some other takeaways:
• Alexander Nylander had a rough week. Nylander, whom the Hawks acquired from Buffalo for Henri Jokiharju, looks a step slow and is too often beaten on 50-50 battles. The forward's compete level has been questioned in the past, and if he doesn't seriously pick it up during training camp, he'll start the season in Rockford.
• Keep an eye on Brandon Hagel. A sixth-round pick of the Sabres in 2016, Hagel was very noticeable Friday and scored on a one-timer in the third period. The 6-foot-1, 173-pound forward scored 41 goals in 66 games in juniors last season and had an eight-game run with the Rockford IceHogs.
"My biggest strength is my speed and my hockey IQ," said Hagel, who signed a three-year, entry level deal with the Hawks last October. "If there's one thing I need to work on it's definitely my strength. If I improve (that), it's going to bring (more) to my game in different ways."
• Ian Mitchell looked more than solid. The defenseman showed maturity, patience and good passing skills during Friday's scrimmage. The former second-round pick is going back to the University of Denver for his junior season, but don't be surprised if he seriously fights for a roster spot in 2020-21.
• Antti Saarela is FAST. A left-shot forward from Finland, Saarela motored up and down the ice Friday and scored a pair of goals. The Hawks took him in the fourth round in June. His older brother, Aleksi, was acquired by the Hawks from Carolina as part of the Calvin de Haan trade.
• Let's not forget about forward Josiah Slavin, who notched a hat trick Friday. Slavin scored into a wide-open net after Boqvist's eye-popping move; he backhanded a shot in for a goal five minutes later; and then gave Team Red the victory on a breakaway goal with just six seconds remaining. The Hawks took Slavin in the seventh round in 2018. He scored 14 goals in 27 games for the Chicago Steel and will play for Colorado College next season.