After attending his third Development Camp with the New Jersey Devils there is a lot of sentiment that Jesper Boqvist is on the cusp of making the team’s opening night roster. But it’s only July and the season starts in October so there is a lot of time between now and then for things to happen (trades, signings, etc.). A second-round pick by New Jersey (36th overall) at the 2017 NHL Draft, Boqvist is arguably one of the team’s top prospects – perhaps even their best forward prospect not named Jack Hughes.
“He’s obviously a great hockey player already with a ton of skills,” Boqvist said shaking his head and grinning looking over at Hughes who was also talking to a media member at his locker. “He’s a fun guy to be around, a lot of good energy.”
Boqvist himself is a prime time player and is also loaded with a ton of skills too. “We are very excited about Jesper. We signed him for a reason because – he’s a really good player,” said Devils Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald at the conclusion of the team’s annual Development Camp. “Whether he starts here in New Jersey or goes back Brynäs – because he can’t go to Binghamton – we’ll play that by ear. But he’s going to get every opportunity, every chance to make this team out of camp.”
The Future Is Now
With a great training camp in September, Boqvist (who turns 21-years-old on October 30) could find himself anywhere from the second to the fourth line on the wing. When asked what the coaches expect from him this summer he told The Hockey Writers, “I have to put on more weight, the coaches want me to keep building on that. I have to keep getting stronger and bring that onto the ice — inside the dots and in the corners, battling and stuff like that,” Boqvist added.
Fitzgerald echoed those sentiments when asked about what he likes most and wants to see from the talented winger from Falun, Sweden. “Areas of improvement: you need to get inside a little bit more at the National Hockey League level to score goals, and score some dirty ones too. But he’s going to get that opportunity,” said New Jersey’s assistant GM.
“There are areas of his game that (put him) atop the organization, his skating being one,” he continued. “Jesper has really good vision, he thinks offense and he can create off the rush. I think our fans are really going to enjoy watching him float around the ice; because this guy floats. He just…he can skate. It’s effortless for him.”
Devil of a Career Ahead
Over 74 games the last two seasons in the SDHL Boqvist has racked up 48 points (16g-32a) and some of those skills were on display during the scrimmage at the Devils practice rink that closed out Development Camp.
“It was great,” replied Boqvist when asked about playing in front of a standing-room-only crowd. “They were loud and it was so fun to play in front of them.” He was one of the goal scorers in the practice game, the recipient of a nice drop pass from Michael McLeod after Boqvist’s pass sprung McLeod ahead of the pack.
“Last year I would probably pass (on an odd-man rush) but you have to shoot the puck so that’s what I’d probably do now,” Boqvist said with a grin. “Scoring goals is fun.”
This being his third go-round Development Camp things are a lot easier, or maybe just more familiar for Boqvist as he acclimates to the Devils organization and North America. It also helps to know the players you’ll be working out and skating alongside too.
“Yeah for sure I’m more comfortable. You know some guys from last year and it makes it easier, you know what’s going on. It was a lot of fun this year,” the 20-
Boqvist. Brynäs. Backstrom.
If he has the kind of career that his favorite player is in the middle of, Devils’ fans would probably be okay with that. “I always watched Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals since I was a little kid. He played for Brynäs, where I played. He’s living near there and I’ll be skating with him in August. It will be a lot of fun.”
Boqvist will certainly be a lot of fun to watch in the NHL when he gets his chance, which could very well happen this October.
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.