Chicago Blackhawks Must Be Patient with Adam Boqvist
Rushing top defensive prospect, Adam Boqvist, into the NHL would not be a wise decision for the Chicago Blackhawks.
There’s no doubt that Adam Boqvist has NHL level skill. There’s no doubt that he will be an important part of the Chicago Blackhawks for many years to come. However, rushing him into the league is the last thing the Blackhawks should do.
As the Chicago Blackhawks roster sits right now, the team has eight quality defensemen who will eat up all the team’s minutes.
Duncan Keith and Erik Gustafsson will be relied on to play with the team’s top line, while helping to generate offense from the back end.
Connor Murphy and a healthy Calvin de Haan will be assigned the shutdown role against opponent’s best players.
Olli Maatta and Brent Seabrook will see mainly defensive zone starts, allowing their teammates a chance to catch their breath.
Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom will be ready for any opportunity to step in and play.
At this point, it becomes difficult to see where Adam Boqvist would fit into the Blackhawks’ defense.
Three Reasons Why Blackhawks Must Be Patient with Adam Boqvist
1. The Roster is Set
As mentioned above, the Blackhawks have eight defensemen who are extremely capable of resolving the defensive woes from a year ago.
New additions, Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta, were pursued exclusively to shore up the defensive zone and they should be able to do just that.
Duncan Keith can still eat up big minutes, while Erik Gustafsson will run the first power-play unit and provide scoring chances from the blue line.
Even though Brent Seabrook has seen better years, he is still a valuable asset on the ice, as he plays a physical game and blocks shots.
Also, he will likely play a big mentor role for the young defensemen and his veteran presence will be key in their development process.
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Along with the six mainstays, Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom have quality NHL experience and should take another step in their respective careers this season.
Where would Adam Boqvist fit in? Considering Boqvist’s offensive abilities, he would need to be paired with a reliable partner to help in the defensive zone.
Possible partners for Boqvist could include Murphy, de Haan, Maatta, or Seabrook.
I can’t see a scenario where the Blackhawks would sacrifice defensive zone responsibility by inserting Boqvist when Keith and Gustafsson can provide more than enough offense on the top pairing.
2. Defensemen Need Professional Experience
It has been said plenty of times, like most cliches in the NHL. Defensemen take the longest to mature into an everyday NHL player.
There are rare exceptions to the cliche, like Boston Bruins’, Charlie McAvoy, and Colorado Avalanche, Cale Makar, but for the most part, it holds true.
There is no denying that Adam Boqvist is a game-changer. He can create scoring chances for his teammates that other players aren’t capable of doing, or even seeing.
Right now, generating scoring chances isn’t a problem for the Blackhawks.
What the team needs to do is limit their opponent’s scoring chances. Inserting Boqvist into the lineup will only provide the opposition with more scoring chances. This is not a knock on Boqvist, but only a realization of where he is in his development as a defenseman.
3. Major Minutes in Rockford
The Rockford IceHogs are going to have one of the best groups of defensemen in the AHL, and leading the way should be Adam Boqvist.
He will probably see a lot of time with fellow stud, Nicolas Beaudin, and stay-at-home defenseman, Dennis Gilbert.
During the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, Boqvist and Gilbert have been paired together, playing the majority of the team’s minutes.
Boqvist can continue to dazzle with his offensive ability, run the power play, and build confidence at the professional level. While doing that, he will simultaneously gain experience in the area of his game that needs the most improvement, which is playing defense.
Managing Hype and Reality
Being a top 10 draft pick, while making highlight-reel plays at development camp, will obviously build a lot of hype around a player.
Boqvist has earned the attention from the Blackhawks’ fanbase and is worthy of the hype. He will be a bonafide stud in the NHL, but rushing him into the league will only do him harm.
The Chicago Blackhawks organization and fans alike must stay patient while letting Boqvist learn the professional game at the AHL level. Great things are to come with Adam Boqvist, just not quite yet.