by Scott King
Every training camp has its surprises. Some players crack a lineup by surpassing expectations, others disappoint and find themselves on the outside looking in, and there’s no predicting injuries.
The big surprise for the Blackhawks’ preseason that fans and the media alike were banking on this year was 19-year-old Finnish defenseman Henri Jokiharju making the team. After it was announced Connor Murphy suffered a back injury that will have him out another eight-to-12 weeks per the team, the 29th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft seems to be a lock.
Enter 18-year-old Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist. Boqvist, who was selected by the Hawks at number eight in the first round of 2018’s draft, was expected to head back to London Ontario to join the London Knights of the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) after Thursday’s preseason game in Detroit.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and company told him not to pack his bags just yet.
“I didn’t mind him in Columbus, but he was good again tonight,” Quenneville told the Athletic following the exhibition contest. “Real good patience level and I liked his gap defensively. He does make a lot of plays and he’s always looking for plays and he’s got a good awareness for the overall game — both sides.”
The defenseman led all Blackhawks skaters in ice time Thursday at 22:15. He’s also blocked two shots in two consecutive preseason games for Chicago.
When asked if it was possible Boqvist could make the team out of camp, Quenneville responded: “I’m not throwing that out of the realm of possibilities.”
Boqvist could play nine NHL games before burning the first year of his entry-level contract.
This year’s training camp surprise could be a surprisingly big one.
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