At 36th overall, the New Jersey Devils drafted forward Jesper Boqvist from Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League. Boqvist has been rising up the ranks at Brynas IF, splitting time with their under-20 team, their main team in the SHL, and being loaned to Timra in Sweden’s second division, the Allsvenskan.
Who is Jesper Boqvist?
Jesper Boqvist is a center and winger for Brynas. He’s been in their system since 2014-15 and has played the majority of this past season outside of the junior SuperElit league. Per Elite Prospects, Boqvist was born on October 30, 1998, making him one of the older prospects in this year’s draft class. He officially stands at 6’0” and 179 pounds; he’s not small, but certainly could stand to gain some weight. He’s signed with Brynas through 2018-19.
His numbers at EliteProspects may seem modest for 2016-17 at first, but it’s clear the young man was doing so well at the junior level that playing with the adults was warranted. After all, he was a point-machine in 2015-16 in the SuperElit league. His 23 goals and 35 assists in 38 games placed him only second to Lias Andersson in that season. With Brynas’ first team in the SHL in 2016-17, Boqvist appeared in 16 games, picked up 6 assists, averaged 8:15 per game, and (this is the impressive part) put up 17 shots on net. For someone who’s receiving so little time, Boqvist still managed to average at least one shot per game. It’s not uncommon for junior-aged players to get limited ice time, but that shot rate gives me a little more hope that he’ll do more with more ice time. His loan to Timra adds to that hope. There, he averaged 17:05 of ice time in 19 games. Boqvist put up three goals, nine assists, and thirty shots on net - again, a good shot rate for such a young player in a non-junior league.
What Others Have Said About Jesper Boqvist
The quick blurb in his Elite Prospect profile describes Boqvist thusly:
Boqvist is an offensive skilled player with impressive skating and puck skills. Shifty player who scores spectacular goals from time to time. There's some consistency issues, but when on top of his game, Boqvist can be quite dominant with the puck and an offensive threat. (EP 2017)
Ben Kerr at Last Word on Sports has a more comprehensive profile of Boqvist. Kerr notes that Boqvist is a very good skater between his acceleration and his speed.
Boqvist has a great first step, and outstanding acceleration. He wins races to loose pucks, and can pressure players who have the puck. His top end speed is also very good, and it helps him to be dangerous in transition and create odd-man rushes. Boqvist has a powerful lower body, which gives him a strong stride. He has the ability to fight through checks, and be strong on the puck against other junior players. However, playing against men, one can see that there is still a bit of room to improve before he is ready to take the next step. Boqvist also has very good agility, and can make quick cuts to beat a defender in one-on-one situations.
Kerr believes Boqvist needs to grow some more, but he is clearly a speedy, offensive prospect.
The stats are really impressive – almost half a point per game through two upper tiers of Swedish hockey. While I can make a strong case for a roadrunner like Boqvist to be closer to the first round, his marginal all-around game and over-confidence with the puck makes him somewhat of a gamble. But this kid has game-breaking skills and can beat goalies just about any way imaginable.
Jeremy Davis at Canucks Army had a full profile on the player too. His conclusion is more pointed, though:
Boqvist fits the traditionally bill of a boom-or-bust player. Although some prospect evaluators have soured on that term, I believe it simply needs to be used in a specific context – and this is one of them. Boqvist has a boatload of speed and skill, and the potential to be a top six producer at the NHL level. However, he must bulk up and learn to deal with the physicality of professional hockey, especially North American professional hockey, in order to stick around at that level. He’s not there yet, and if he doesn’t develop that, he may never play an NHL game. Boom/bust.
I certainly hope Boqvist is able to do that. I get the sense from Davis’ profile along with the others that Boqvist needs to show he can handle the adjustments that come from a smaller rink and a more physical style. A risk, yes, but at this point of the draft, most of the prospects do carry some risk. The reward, I think, is worth it.
A Little Video
There are plenty of short highlight clips of Boqvist from this past season. Such as this hat-trick and assist performance in one of his few SuperElit appearances in 2016-17:
And these two assists he picked up in a game with Timra last season:
There’s even a full on highlight video of his 2015-16 season, where Boqvist was dominating the SuperElit:
My Initial Reaction of the Pick
Personally, I like the pick. With Connor Timmins and Nicolas Hague going within the first three picks of the second round, there was not a defenseman that I absolutely wanted the Devils to grab. Even with Timmins and Hague, I wasn’t so enamored with them either. Boqvist’s speed and his offensive skillset certainly falls in line with a philosophy of “fast, attacking, and supportive.” I would have been just as fine with Jared Anderson-Dolan or Jason Robertson, too. But I think this pick was a good one for New Jersey.
In the meantime, please have your say about the pick in the comments. Do you think it was a good pick or not and why? What do you expect this player will become for the Devils? Of course, don't forget to vote in our quick poll on the selection. Thank you for reading.
The New Jersey Devils drafted Jesper Boqvist at 36th overall (2nd Rd). What do you think about the pick?
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