The Chicago Blackhawks won’t have to travel far to keep an eye on No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist.
The 17-year-old defenseman is leaving his native Sweden and will play for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, the team announced Thursday.
This move comes four days after the Blackhawks signed Boqvist to a three-year entry-level NHL contract, with general manager Stan Bowman telling the media the move allowed the organization to play a larger role in his development. Boqvist was picked by the Knights in the second round of the 2017 CHL import draft, which meant that franchise owned his rights if he opted to play in North America.
This move will help Boqvist make the adjustment to playing on North American ice, a typically tall hurdle for European players to clear when transitioning from their native countries to the NHL. It may also allow Boqvist a chance to dominate the competition, now that he’ll be playing in a league comprised of players around his age — the SHL has players who are 10 and even 20 years older than Boqvist.
In the 25 games Boqvist played for Brynas last season, he had 14 goals and 10 assists, and those numbers could go up dramatically in the goal-happy OHL. London has a rich history of producing NHL players, including Patrick Kane (2006-07) and former Blackhawk Dave Bolland (2002-06). London won the OHL Championship and Memorial Cup as CHL champions in 2005 with Bolland.
Blackhawks fans can get their first glimpse of Boqvist when he’s expected to be at the team’s prospect camp that begins July 16.