Adam Boqvist, Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets’ Boqvist Could Be Trade Target

When the Columbus Blue Jackets begin their 2023 training camp with the first day of on-ice workouts on Sept. 21, a lot of defensemen will be on the ice, many of whom play on the right side. This includes Adam Boqvist, Damon Severson, Erik Gudbranson, Andrew Peeke, Jake Bean, Marcus Bjork, and prospects David Jiricek and Corson Ceulemans. That’s a logjam. Obviously, there’s going to have to be some moves involving NHL-level players.

But who will be the defensemen that get assigned to the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL), and who will be traded? How this plays out will be one of the top storylines for the Blue Jackets during the preseason.

Adam Boqvist Columbus Blue Jackets
Adam Boqvist, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

One name that I have seen mentioned as a trade possibility throughout the summer is Boqvist. He’s young, talented and, when healthy, productive, showcasing the talent that made him the eighth-overall selection of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks.

There are a number of teams (Arizona, Edmonton, Florida, St. Louis, San Jose come to mind) that would be salivating at the idea of acquiring Boqvist should the Blue Jackets make him available, so let’s delve into the reasons why he could be popular in the trade market.

Offensive Prowess from the Blue Line

Boqvist’s strengths include exceptional stickhandling skills, allowing him to navigate through traffic, create space, and initiate offensive plays. He’s got an accurate shot, is well-suited to running a power play unit, sees the ice well, and he’s a smooth and fluid skater with speed.

Acquired from the Blackhawks along with three draft picks in exchange for Seth Jones on July 21, 2021, the 23-year-old Boqvist has appeared in 174 career NHL games, registering 75 points on 22 goals and 53 assists with just 40 penalty minutes

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Since joining the Blue Jackets, Boqvist has been plagued by injuries, which have limited him to just 98 games over the past two seasons. When in the lineup, he’s produced offense from the blue line with 46 points on 16 goals and 30 assists in just 98 games. Last season, he recorded a career-high 24 points on five goals and 19 assists in 46 games.

In a league where defensemen who can generate offense are highly coveted, Boqvist’s proficiency in this part of his game makes him a valuable commodity.

Potential and Development Trajectory

Teams are always on the lookout for young players with the potential to become cornerstone pieces in their lineup. Boqvist fits that description well. With several years of development still ahead of him, his growth potential is a tantalizing prospect for teams. The possibility of Boqvist developing into a top-four defenseman has teams salivating at the idea of acquiring his services.

While Boqvist has elite offensive skills, his work in the defensive zone remains a work in progress. To develop into a top-four defenseman, Boqvist needs to improve his defensive zone awareness, positioning, decision-making, reading opponents’ plays, and becoming more physical in his own zone.

I believe adding more physicality to his game would make Boqvist a more well-rounded defenseman. I’d like to see him engaging in more battles for the puck along the boards and in front of the net. He has a bit of a mean streak and I’d like to see that on display more often, letting opponents know he’s there. The more Boqvist plays, and with coaching, he can improve in the defensive zone to elevate his game and value.

The Blue Jackets’ Dilemma

Availability is the greatest ability. Because Boqvist hasn’t been able to stay healthy in his career, that tried-and-true statement by general managers and coaches is the main reason why I think the Blue Jackets would entertain trading a player with the upside the 6-foot, 182-pound Swede possesses.

As a young defenseman with dynamic offensive skills, the demand for Boqvist on the trade market would be high. Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen could certainly get a good return for Boqvist – more than he could for Gudbranson, Bean or Peake – and fill an immediate need elsewhere on the roster.

On the other hand, parting with a player of Boqvist’s potential would be a risk and a decision they could come to regret. Would you take that risk if you were Kekalainen? I wouldn’t.

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