International Ice Hockey Federation

Boqvist poised for big things

Boqvist poised for big things

Offensive defenceman plays key role for Sweden

Published 15.08.2018 10:50 GMT+5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Boqvist poised for big things
MAGNITOGORSK, RUSSIA - APRIL 19: Sweden's Adam Boqvist #3 makes a pass up the ice in the third period during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
In his spare time, Adam Boqvist enjoys playing golf with his friends. But the Swedish defenceman has better things to do in Russia right now.

This smooth-skating 17-year-old Brynas product is under the microscope as Sweden shoots for its first IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship gold medal ever.

It’s not just because Boqvist is expected to be a top-10 NHL draft pick in June. It’s because fellow blueliner Rasmus Dahlin, the projected #1 overall pick, isn’t here after playing for both the silver-medal World Junior team in Buffalo and the fifth-place Olympic team in PyeongChang during his breakthrough SHL season with Frolunda Gothenburg.

Veteran Swedish head coach Torgny Bendelin said: “[Dahlin] couldn’t come because he was totally drained. The last two years, he’s been all over with so much pressure on him. He was burned out.”

So that means Boqvist, as Sweden’s next-best offensive defenceman in this age group, will see a ton of minutes here, both at even strength and on the power play.

The nimble puckhandler, whose favorite player is Erik Karlsson, had 24 points in 25 games with Brynas’s SuperElit junior club, and added another assist in limited ice time with the senior SHL club. Playing alongside another top prospect in Adam Ginning, Boqvist recorded one assist in the opening 3-1 victory over Switzerland. He finished +2 with four shots, and will look to do even better in Sweden's second game on Saturday versus Belarus.

Boqvist, who stands 180 cm and 77 kg, said he enjoys partnering with the 191-cm, 89-kg Ginning. The Swedish captain has cultivated a more defensive style with Linkoping.

“He’s good and big,” Boqvist said. “I like to join the rush and he stays back. We do things well out there together.”

At the 2017 U18, Sweden’s inability to beat the Americans or Russians in the group stage or playoffs led to a fourth-place finish. Boqvist was mostly an onlooker, going pointless in his U18 maiden voyage. However, he now regards that as a blessing in disguise as he moves forward with Bendelin’s 2018 squad.

“I didn’t play so much last year,” Boqvist said. “So I saw how it was out there. I know what we can do this year. I think we have more skill here now. We can win the gold.”

It would be thrilling for him to finish the season on a high after Brynas disappointingly bowed to the Vaxjo Lakers in the SHL quarter-finals (4-1). Still, there’s no great shame in losing to a team led by SHL scoring champion Elias Pettersson.

The super-shifty 19-year-old first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2017 also leads the playoffs in scoring. And Pettersson currently needs two more wins over Skelleftea to capture the Le Mat championship trophy.

“He’s a pretty good hockey player!” Boqvist admitted with a chuckle. “He does things nobody else can do out there.”

Like Pettersson, Boqvist, who is the younger brother of Brynas forward and New Jersey prospect Jesper Boqvist, could head to the NHL soon. He says he enjoys playing on the smaller North American ice, although he needs to get better in the corners. Fortunately, he has some experienced North American teammates with Brynas who have given him valuable tips.

“I’ve talked to Ryan Gunderson, Aaron Palushaj and Kevin Clark. They tell me: ‘Do the right things and you’ll be there one day if you work hard.’ I listen to them.”

For now, he’s got plenty of work left to do in Russia. It’s clear he’d rather win the gold than get a hole-in-one at the Gavle Golf Club any day. Jonatan Berggren got the party started with a hat trick in Game One, but it will take a full team effort keyed by Boqvist, Ginning, Jacob Olofsson and other leaders to make the big dream come true.

“I think we can go all the way, but only if we give our best,” said Boqvist.


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