We continue our look back at the 2020-21 Chicago Blackhawks season with our breakdown of defenseman Adam Boqvist’s efforts. His season can be looked at in two parts; before he tested positive for COVID-19 and after he came back. The difference between the two portions of his season was quite noticeable.
Related – Chicago Blackhawks 2020-21 Player Grades
The progression of Boqvist was one of the biggest storylines heading into the season. As the season went on, we saw the young defender grow in confidence and start to show signs of being the dynamic player the Blackhawks need him to be.
Overall Season Stats
Standard: 35 games played (GP), 2 goals (G), 14 assists (A), 16 points (PTS), minus-7, 14 penalty minutes (PIM), 39 shots on goal (S), 5.1 shooting percentage (S%), 16:59 average time on ice (ATOI), 29 blocked shots, 29 hits, 7 takeaways, 21 giveaways.
Advanced Metrics: 47.94 Corsi for percentage (CF%), 100.1 PDO, 46.99 goals for percentage (GF%), 47.28 expected goals for percentage (xGF%), 2.5 goals for per 60 mins (GF/60), 2.83 goals against per 60 mins (GA/60), 28.99 shots for per 60 mins (SF/60). 30.92 shots against per 60 mins (SA/60), 2.35 expected goals for 60 mins (xGF/60), 2.62 expected goals against per 60 mins (xGA/60), 2.1 goals against replacement (GAR), 0.4 wins against replacement (WAR), 0.7 standing points against replacement (SPAR)
All stats courtesy of Evolving Hockey.
A Work in Progress
There have been high expectations for Boqvist ever since he was drafted with the eighth overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. With high expectations usually comes pressure to perform. Especially when the Blackhawks lack dynamic players up and down the lineup. The young Swedish defenseman started his professional career in 2019-20 with 15 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Rockford IceHogs. He had a goal and six points and was plus-2 during his short AHL stint.
Boqvist probably needed more time in the AHL before making his NHL debut on Nov. 2, 2019. He was playing big minutes in all situations, including quarterbacking the top power-play unit. As his confidence grew, we began to see flashes of the dynamic player Stan Bowman hoped he was drafting.
His first go-round in the NHL had the normal ups and downs you would expect during a young blueliner’s rookie season. However, the playoffs were a struggle for Boqvist, especially against the Vegas Golden Knights. He finished with a 45.5 CF% at 5-on-5 with a 93.2 PDO (his shooting percentage + the team’s save percentage while he was on the ice). Head coach Jeremy Colliton showed trust in him by starting 59.6% of his 5-on-5 shifts in the defensive zone. He finished as a minus-5 in eight games and looked lost on the ice at times.
A Tale of Two Seasons
Boqvist’s season was limited to just 35 games due to a bout of COVID-19 and then a season-ending wrist injury. His season can be broken into two parts; from opening night until he tested positive for COVID-19 and from when he returned on Feb. 17 until he broke his wrist on April 27.
A lot of the same problems that we saw last followed Boqvist into the 2020-21 season. When he returned to the lineup after missing 24 days recovering from the virus, he started to improve. He looked like a more confident player, and the results started showing in all three zones of the ice.
During his first six games of the season, Boqvist had a 46.7 CF%, 96.1 PDO with 0.81 points per 60 mins (P/60) in 12:22 of ATOI at 5-on-5. In the 29 games after his three-week absence, those numbers improved to 48.3 CF%, 99.8 PDO, 1.1 P/60 in 13:10 ATOI at 5-on-5. His overall defense improved during the season as he allowed fewer shots against, high-danger chances, and expected goals than he did in 2019-20.
The biggest improvement came on the power play. Obviously, Boqvist is being groomed to be the quarterback on the top unit, and he looks like he can excel at it. He went from averaging 2:10 of power-play ice time last season to 3:23 this one. He was on the ice for 60.9% of the Blackhawks total power-play during his 35 games. He contributed to 57.14% of the power-play goals scored while he was on the ice by either scoring or picking up an assist. Exactly have of his goals and assists this past season came while on the man advantage.
Overall Grade: B-
Heading into the season, I stated many times on Blackhawks Banter that the most important aspect will not be wins and losses but rather the progression of the team’s top prospects. We definitely saw Boqvist take a step forward. While he still has plenty of work to do to become an elite player, he took steps in the right direction.
The next step for the Blackhawks is to identify a long-term partner for Boqvist. While he played the most with Duncan Keith, he did his best work with Calvin de Haan. These two are not long-term options. He needs a defensively responsible partner who can also skate well enough to keep up with him. It will be interesting to see how he takes the ice with next season.
Boqvist has just 76 games of NHL experience, less than a full season in normal circumstances. He doesn’t turn 21 until Aug. 15, so there is plenty of time to let him figure things out. The Blackhawks are in the ideal situation to let him and the other young defensemen get their reps and develop at the game’s highest level.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.