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Draft watch: all of a sudden, Adam Boqvist is flying under the radar

With Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard grabbing headlines, don't forget about one of the other talented blueliners available in the first round

As the 2018 draft class crystallized, the tiers of defensemen began to shift. Of course Rasmus Dahlin is at the top, but Noah Dobson and Evan Bouchard seemed to jump up a little, joining Quinn Hughes in a grouping. But let’s not forget about Adam Boqvist. The Swedish blueliner is an excellent skater with dynamic traits and he has a fan in his countryman.

“He’s sick,” Dahlin said. “He can do whatever he wants out there.”

Indeed, Boqvist’s puck skills and mobility are excellent. Other elements of his game still need work - defense and overall strength being two - though there is clearly a lot to like. Just based on how the draft board shakes out, Boqvist could end up dropping a little in the first round, but that will simply be good news for whichever team secures his future services.

“He’s a great skater, has excellent puck skills, poise and vision,” said one scout. “He transports and manages the puck well. He’s the favored size for a lot of people right now, the kind of guy that would have been overlooked before.”

Indeed, at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, Boqvist will have to thicken up at least a little bit before he can consider a career in the NHL, but at least the height won’t be the same barrier as it might have been 20 years ago.

Unlike Dahlin or Bouchard, Boqvist is not the type of kid who can make a splash right away. He made his SHL debut this past season, getting into 15 games with Brynas. He spent 25 games with the organization’s junior club, where he averaged basically a point per game and was also loaned out to Almtuna, a men’s team in Sweden’s second-best circuit. Internationally, he had strong tournaments at the Ivan Hlinka and the world under-18s, earning bronze at both events and being named top defenseman at the under-18s. In between, there were ups and downs back in Sweden. The mission next year is to stick with Brynas’ SHL squad full-time.

“We have eight good defensemen so I have to work hard every day,” Boqvist said. “Management has told me to fight for a spot.”

Staying healthy would help, too. Boqvist sustained two concussions this past season and one the year prior, though he said he hasn’t experienced any lingering effects. The son of a coach, he’s also the younger brother of New Jersey Devils second-rounder Jesper Boqvist, so there are some nice bloodlines there. Given how the defenseman plays, it’s probably not surprising who his NHL influence is, though the kid also wants to be his own player.

“I try to play (like) Adam Boqvist,” he said. “But of course I look up to Erik Karlsson; how he plays and everything.”

In a draft that is flush with talented defensemen, some team is going to get a very nice prospect in Boqvist. If he happens to slide because of the skilled blueliners ahead of him, it’s not so much an indictment of his play as it is a bonus for the franchise that does call his name out tonight.

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