Blackhawks assign 1st-round pick Adam Boqvist to OHL

Chicago opted against giving the 18-year-old defenseman more NHL playing time early in the season.

The Chicago Blackhawks have assigned defenseman Adam Boqvist, their top pick in this year’s draft, to the OHL’s London Knights.

Chicago selected Boqvist, who turned 18 on Aug. 15, with the No. 8 overall pick in June. The Swedish blueliner impressed Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville enough to the point he said after Thursday’s preseason game in Detroit that Chicago was considering keeping him in the NHL.

Chicago also assigned defenseman Nicolas Beaudin, another first-round pick from this year, to Drummondville in the QMJHL on Friday.

Boqvist, a right-handed blueliner, will play his first season in North America with London after playing for Brynäs in Sweden. The Knights used their second round pick in the 2017 CHL Import draft on Boqvist.

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 Brynäs 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.