'He obviously has a lot of skill': Adam Boqvist off to impressive start in Blackhawks training camp

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist, here playing in a preseason game last season, continues to turn heads as he tries to make the team this season.

    Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist, here playing in a preseason game last season, continues to turn heads as he tries to make the team this season. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/19/2019 6:15 PM

It takes quite a bit to impress Duncan Keith.

But that's exactly what Adam Boqvist did -- not once, but twice -- during the Blackhawks' 2-1 preseason victory over the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday at the United Center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Boqvist's first eye-opening move came early in the second period when he pulled off a between-the-legs, toe-drag move just in front of the Detroit net. A split second later, he rifled a shot that goalie Jonathan Bernier barely deflected with the top of his glove.

Shortly thereafter, the 19-year-old Boqvist wheeled around a slow-moving Red Wings player and fired off another high-quality shot.

"He obviously has a lot of skill," said Keith, who reminded us that he was playing junior hockey at the same age Boqvist is now. "The things he's doing out there, it shows a lot about the poise he has. He's just going to continue to get better and better the more comfortable he gets."

It's important to remember that Boqvist is impressing against players who figure to be in the minors this season. Still, we've seen him pull off these moves -- and unleash his wicked shot -- enough times that it's fair to wonder just how high this kid's ceiling is.

Said Keith, who spent 80 percent of his postgame interview talking about Boqvist: "Those are the little plays like that only a few guys really make, and he's one of them. He brings fans out of their seats when he does those type of things."

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Despite the fact he's having another outstanding training camp, it does appear Boqvist will begin the season in Rockford. He practiced in a group that had all prospects and minor leaguers at Fifth Third Arena Thursday.

"There's a lot of good defensemen here," said Boqvist, the eighth overall pick of the 2018 draft. "If they don't think I've done enough, it is what it is. I can't be another guy (other) than me.

"I'm just going to work hard every day and show them I want to be with the other group."

That group includes veterans Keith, Brent Seabrook, Erik Gustafsson, Connor Murphy, Olli Maatta and Calvin de Haan. It would seem Boqvist's two paths to NHL playing time are an injury or incredibly poor play by one of those six.

Or, of course, a trade. But that's a remote possibility at best.

"For him he just needs to keep the opportunity he gets and make the most of it and continue to get adjusted to the pro game," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He can't control the numbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We're three games into the preseason and we've got some more evaluating to do. I have been pleased with his games. He's showed well."

We talk a lot about Boqvist's offensive prowess, but he also insists his play in the defensive zone has improved as well. He's not as soft in the corners. He reads plays better. And he's much more adept at poking pucks away from attacking forwards.

"I think the coaches can trust me a little bit more," he said.

For now, Boqvist is doing everything possible to observe and take advice from players like Keith. He chuckled Thursday when reminded he was 2 years old as Keith took part in his first training camp 17 years ago.

As for that move around Detroit's Chris Terry? Boqvist at first planned on simply firing a shot off his forehand, but quickly realized that wasn't going to work.

So he improvised and just missed scoring a goal that would have hit every highlight show in the country.

"He was going (to cut me off), so I had to go behind my legs," Boqvist said. "Because if I'm going in front of my legs, it's easier to take the puck from me.

"It's nice that it works, but sometimes it's maybe not going to work and it's maybe a goal (the other way). You have to take the right chances."

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