What a crazy four months this has been for Blue Jackets’ defenseman Adam Boqvist.
It started with the Seth Jones trade where Boqvist was one of the main pieces going back to the Blue Jackets. Once the shock factor of the trade started to subside, he suffered an injury. His lower-body injury cost him seven games from Oct 25-Nov 15.
Boqvist Ready to Show His Stuff
But Boqvist is back now ready to play in his fifth game since that injury Friday night at Nationwide Arena against the Vancouver Canucks. With each passing day, he is starting to get more comfortable with his new surroundings.
“It was a new experience for me to get a new team (to) get never traded before,” Boqvist said. “I started off a little slow and was injured. But I feel good now. I’m feeling like joining the play a lot, creating some chances. When I do that, points are going to come as well. I think we’re playing good as a team as well, finding ways to win against good, strong teams. We just gotta find a way to win tonight.”
Boqvist’s offensive abilities has never really been the question. It’s the other side of the puck where he is in the midst of learning. He might still be learning, but the team is excited about both his progress and his upside. Still he realizes there’s plenty to learn and he needs to be smart out there while making an impact on defense.
“It depends who you play against,” Boqvist said. “If you play against McDavid, you probably don’t want to have me out there. But obviously I want to play against the top players. That’s the most fun. It’s fun to (play) defense against those (players). You gotta be smart. You have to think that you are in the offensive zone (where) you want to make the play, but you have to try to play back to defense. I’m not the guy that’s going to go hitting guys into the glass. But I have to have an active stick and quick feet.”
Zach Werenski Believes Boqvist Will Dominate in Time
One sign that you can tell that Boqvist is getting more comfortable is the fact he is getting some added responsibility. Most notably, Boqvist is getting time on the top power-play unit with Patrik Laine injured.
Boqvist’s inclusion allows the Blue Jackets to throw many different looks at opponents. Werenski believes those different looks will allow more chances to come.
“I think it just gives us different looks I think for the penalty kill such as pre-scouting,” Werenski said. “They don’t really know what to look for because there’s so many different options we can run. Jake (Bean) could be running the point. Me and (Boqvist) could be on our one-timers. We could be on the other half walls. It’s just a lot of different looks and I think if you can do that on your power play, you get moving and it makes it hard for the penalty kill to stay within their structure.”
“(Boqvist) is really offensively talented. He’s really good with the puck. He thinks the game really well on the offensive side of things, the power play, making plays, making plays through guys, beat guys. It’s still early and we just started working on it but he’s been making some plays and it’s been fun.”
While Boqvist is making an expected impact on offense, Werenski believes that he’s coming defensively too. If there’s anyone who can relate to where Boqvist is at with his game, it’s Werenski. He came in as a purely offensive defenseman who had to learn the defensive side. Here’s Werenski’s assessment of Boqvist’s development on defense.
“I think he’s been good. He wants to learn, he wants to be better,” Werenski said. “He’s a guy that’s always asking questions. He’s asking me things. He’s asking Mac (Steve McCarthy) things. It’s hard. You don’t want to come in and lose your offense. You want to keep that a part of your game but you have to focus on other things as well. I went through it for a long time with Torts. He’s probably way ahead of where I was when I was first here. It’s a learning curve and he’s been doing awesome at it.”
You Might Also Like:
- 3 Metropolitan Division Goalies Expected to be Traded This Season
- 3 Blue Jackets’ Hot Takes for 2022-23 Season
- Blue Jackets’ Pros and Cons of Signing Erik Gudbranson
- Metropolitan Division Predictions for the 2022-23 Season
- Blue Jackets’ Johnson & Marchenko Are Strong Calder Candidates
“As the season goes, you’re going to see a more complete game and you’re gonna start to see him taking over shifts in games, making plays and being up the ice. He’s a hell of a hockey player and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow over the next few years.”
Brad Larsen Helping Boqvist Along
With Laine’s injury, someone had to go into his spot on the top power play unit. Larsen elected to go with Boqvist because of what he can bring to the table. Larsen realizes the potential that’s there all over the ice.
“When you have a guy like that (Boqvist), you want to put him in a position to succeed,” Larsen said. “He’s an undersized defenseman and that’s not news to him. He’s been there his whole career. When you are playing (top-four minutes), you’re playing against the top-two lines and you’re going to have to play in your zone. If you want the puck back as an offensive player you’re going to have to work to get it.”
“For him, he’s progressed. We’ve had lots of video work with him and talks about it. He’s trying. That’s something he wants to improve and we know that. Every time he’s on the ice, he does so many good things with the puck. He’s a good guy to have in our lineup for us.”
Boqvist’s Best Is Yet To Come
Don’t let the topsy-turvy with Boqvist’s game fool you into thinking he won’t figure things out on the defensive end. It is a work in progress but it’s also a priority for the Blue Jackets to get him to be a complete defenseman. He has taken some early steps this season knowing that’s there a way to go.
Still, Boqvist’s offensive ability is borderline special for a defenseman. He is going to make some unreal plays with the puck especially on the man-advantage. Things will really start to take off though once he finds consistency on defense. The Blue Jackets believe his best is yet to come. And he believes his best is yet to come.
It’s going to take some patience but it will be well worth the wait once he puts it all together. For now though, the Blue Jackets couldn’t be more excited about where this player’s career could go.
- Defenseman Andrew Peeke treated Boqvist, Gabriel Carlsson and Emil Bemstrom to dinner at the Guildhouse on Thanksgiving Day. That’s a very neat thing to see.
- The Canucks are spiraling but don’t tell the Blue Jackets that they aren’t dangerous. Larsen said “have you seen their lineup?” Then he went on to say “Don’t be fooled by their record. That’s a good hockey team.”
- Werenski and Boqvist each shared similar feelings about the Canucks with Werenski saying that they’ve played well despite not getting the results. It seems clear the Blue Jackets aren’t overlooking their opponent.
- After Friday, the Blue Jackets play 10 of their next 12 on the road including Saturday night in St. Louis. That stretch ends with Seattle, Western Canada and then a trip to Buffalo. By then, it’ll be Christmas time. Where has this season gone?
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.