Earlier this afternoon, the New Jersey Devils announced that they have signed forward Jesper Boqvist to a three-year entry level contract. Boqvist was the team’s second round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The center/left winger has grown up and played for Brynäs IF in the Swedish Hockey League. He will now come to America this Fall for a chance to play in the National Hockey League.
There was hope that this would be announced today. This morning, Johan Svensson’s article at Expressen garnered traction on social media and other Devils sites stating that Boqvist has decided to go to New Jersey. However, Svensson’s post includes this passage:
Därmed kommer Brynäs behöva starta upp säsongen, utan att Boqvist är med i truppen. Skulle han sedan inte ta plats, så är en återkomst någonstans, en bit in i hösten, inte utesluten. Eftersom han ha ett avtal i Europa med Brynäs, och inte är draftad i den första rundan, så kan New Jersey inte stå i vägen om han inte tar plats i NHL-laget.Nu är natuligtvis förhoppningen dock att han ska göra det, eftersom han väljer att åka över.
Which Google translates to:
Thus, Brynäs will have to start the season, without Boqvist joining the squad. Should he then not take place, then a return somewhere, a bit into the fall, is not excluded. Because he has an agreement in Europe with Brynäs, and is not drafted in the first round, New Jersey cannot stand in the way if he does not take place in the NHL team. Now, of course, the hope is that he will do so, because he chooses to go over.
Patrik Bexell of Habs Eyes on the Prize chimed in with a clearer, pithier explanation:
He will go for the NHL this fall. Focus is on the Devils, he would return to Brynäs if he doesn't get a spot on the NHL roster.— Patrik Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) June 10, 2019
This is an important wrinkle. This would mean that Boqvist’s ELC has an European assignment clause in it. It allows him to return to Brynäs if he does not make the New Jersey roster later this year. From Boqvist’s perspective, this is understandable. His goal is to play in Newark not Binghamton. I am not sure that it is in the Devils’ best interest, but plans can change when camp rolls around. Besides, I am not so concerned about it because I am confident that Boqvist can crack the roster.
Unless Shero goes on a spending and/or trading spree in the next few weeks, there will be room at forward for Boqvist. He can play both center and left wing. After last season, it is clear there are few spots set in stone after the first line for each of those positions. At left wing after Hall, there’s Miles Wood, Blake Coleman, and possibly Pavel Zacha. Neither has taken command of being a regular on the second line. The roster on the left side is not set in stone. At center after Hischier, there is the likely first overall pick, possibly Zacha, and Zajac. It is a little tighter there but at least a spot is available as needed. Boqvist is a fast player with plenty of offensive skills. You can never have too many players in that mold in general. After all, the Devils have made a point of it to pick prospects who can skate well and have notable offensive skill since 2016. They are now moving up in the pipeline and the team can reap the rewards.
Moreover and most of all, he has produced at a high level for Brynas last season. His 13 goals and 22 assists in 51 games does not seem like a lot. However, 35 points in 51 games was good to be tied for the 14th most points in the whole league. Furthermore, most of that came at even strength for a low-scoring Brynäs squad. AAtJ member Of Corsi posted this FanPost about Boqvist’s remarkable production at even strength back in May. You should read the whole thing. For me, one of the biggest takeaways is that he factored in just under 37% of all of Brynäs’ even strength goals and he did so on a bad team, with unproductive linemates, and at the age of 20. He was the big fish in the Brynäs’ scoring pond. I think that means he is ready for a bigger challenge. So does this video of dazzling highlights by Boqvist, who is wearing #90 for Brynäs.
He just flies out there. I know it is a highlight video and it shows Boqvist on good plays. Still, his speed is exciting. He is worth getting hyped for. Again, unless Shero brings in a bunch of left wingers and centers in the next month or so, I think he has a great chance to earn a spot in camp in the Fall. With Boqvist, Ty Smith, and the first overall pick in 2019 that is likely to be Jack Hughes, we could see at least three rookies who could make an impact in 2019-20. That is exciting.
With Boqvist signed, that is another member of the 2017 draft class secured. Already, Nico Hischier and Marian Studenic have ELCs and played in the Devils organization. Fabian Zetterlund and Gilles Senn signed ELCs earlier in this offseason. Nikita Popugaev has an AHL deal; he’ll need an ELC by next year to secure his rights. As Reilly Walsh and Aarne Talvitie are in college, there is a little more time before they have to put pen to paper. (2021 for Walsh, 2022 for Talvitie) According to the reserve list at CapFriendly, NJ has no rush to sign Yegor Zaitsev, if at all. The only player who has been “let go” is Halifax defenseman and seventh round pick Jocktan Chainey. He was not signed by June 1 so he can re-enter the draft. Should Boqvist and any of the non-Hischier players become NHL players, then the class will look that much better in retrospect.
In any case, I’m pleased that the Devils were able to secure Boqvist’s signature today. So is Boqvist. I am looking forward to see what he will do in training camp and preseason. I’m getting hyped. What is your take on Jesper Boqvist being signed today? Do you think he makes the New Jersey roster this Fall? If so, where would you put him in the lineup? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Boqvist in the comments. Thank you for reading.