In one of his first shifts in the Ontario Hockey League, Adam Boqvist crossed the Sault Ste. Marie blue line, scissored between two defenders, cut to the net and nearly lifted a backhand past Greyhounds goalie and L.A. Kings prospect Matthew Vilalta.
In that moment, Boqvist made hockey look like an air show — the kind that has small fighter jets cutting between each other overhead.
Boqvist doesn’t just skate on the ice — he zooms.
The young player was selected by the London Knights in the 2017 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft but chose not to come to North America as a 17-year-old. He elected to stay in Sweden and play for Brynas, where he split time between their J20 team and their SHL team.
After being selected 10th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the native of Falun, Sweden felt it was time to leave home and enter another phase of his career.
The biggest change — other than getting over the fact that Gatorade and peanut butter always seem to be available — was the adjustment to North American ice.
For someone who can fly around the rink, shrinking from a surface that is 200 feet by 100 feet to one that is 200 by 85 might not sound like much, but it is. Not airplane-hangar-to-two-car-garage different, but there is definitely more congestion out there to get through.
“I feel I am able to play better every game. I’m feeling way more comfortable,” Boqvist says.
The game is also played a little differently. You can say hockey is hockey, however some of the nuances are very different.
“Here, the biggest difference is the defensive side. You try to trap more,” explains Boqvist. “In Sweden, it’s about forechecking.”
Boqvist is not afraid to take his time. Just as he made the decision to stay an extra year in Sweden, he has been learning new nuances of the game, and that has led to the ignition of his offensive numbers. In his first three OHL games, Boqvist was held to no points and was a minus-4.
In the seven games that followed, he piled up 10 assists and was a plus-5.
“I’m still waiting for my first goal, though,” he says.
That goal came in his very next game against the Ottawa 67’s as he cut to the net and sent a backhand behind Cerick Andree in the Ottawa net.
Still, with that kind of self-awareness, a career as a fighter pilot may not have been out of the question for him in a different life.
It’s a part of his personality that shines through immediately: he is the kind of person who knows where he wants to be, knows what it takes to get there and is willing to put in the work to make it happen.
That work is going to come at the expense of his OHL opponents.
For Boqvist, the old saying “the sky is the limit” really does ring true.