The Columbus Dispatch
Jackets’ Boqvist beginning to flash skills
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three games into the season, Adam Boqvist had a chance to meet a legendary former NHL defenseman who's also from Sweden.
It was following the third game of the Blue Jackets' season, a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, and Nicklas Lidstrom was at Little Caesar's Arena to watch the game and interact with fans. Boqvist, 21, played with one of Lidstrom's sons a couple of times in Sweden but had never met or spoken with the Red Wings' icon who earned the nickname “the perfect human” during a 20-year career in which he won the Stanley Cup four times with Detroit and earned the Norris Trophy six times as the NHL'S top defenseman.
As it turns out, he still hasn't. Boqvist bypassed the chance to introduce himself while Gustav Nyquist chatted outside the Jackets' locker room with Lidstrom, his former teammate with the Red Wings in 2011-12.
“He was an awesome defenseman,” Boqvist said. “I was a little bit too young to understand how good he was, I think, but he was one of the greatest ever, so that was pretty cool to see him there. Gus was talking to him and I was too scared to say, ‘Hi,' so I just walked by one time.”
In other words, he did what most Swedish kids his age would have done in that situation, which is a good reminder of what stage Boqvist is in his own NHL career. This is his third NHL season, after logging 66 games with the Chicago Blackhawks the past two years, but he
hasn't even reached the 100-game plateau yet.
He's just getting started, as both an NHL defenseman and a Blue Jacket.
“It was a new experience for me to get a new team,” said Boqvist, who was one of the key return prizes for Columbus in a July trade that sent star defenseman Seth Jones to the Blackhawks. “I'd never been traded before and then, you know, I started off slow (here) and then I got injured. But I feel good now. I feel like I'm joining the play a lot and creating chances, and when I do that, points are going to come, as well.”
Goals and points are piling up now. In seven games since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup for seven games, Boqvist has scored four goals, added two assists and totaled six points — including the first two-goal and three-point game of his career in the Jackets' 6-3 loss Saturday in St. Louis.
Boqvist called it their “worst” game of the season afterward and said he couldn't enjoy his own success because of it. That was the right thing to say and feel in the moment, but his performance the past three games cannot be ignored. Boqvist's three goals, two assists and five points in the past three games show what kind of potential he has.
It's why the Blackhawks drafted him eighth overall in 2018 and why it took Jones plus a bevy of draft picks to pry him away. The knocks on Boqvist are all on the defensive side, beginning with his size. He's listed, generously, at 6 feet, 189 pounds and isn't exactly a physical type of rear guard when it comes to playing in the defensive zone. Lidstrom wasn't, either.
“I'm not going to be like ‘Gavy,' like hitting or running through guys,” Boqvist said, referring to bulky Blue Jackets defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov.