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FEATURE: Boqvist Ready for NHL Test After Whirlwind 24 Hours

From getting a midnight call that he was joining the Blackhawks to practice on Friday, Boqvist ready should his name be called vs. Kings

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

LOS ANGELES - Adam Boqvist was relaxing in the house he rents in Rockford along with AHL teammates Tim Soderlund and Jacob Nilsson on Wednesday night when, just before midnight, he got the call of a lifetime.

The 19-year-old Boqvist was told he was being recalled by the Blackhawks and that he should get ready to join the team in Los Angeles where it will play the Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center.

"Every guy dreams about that and I'm the lucky one," Boqvist said Friday, the day after the Blackhawks officially recalled their top defensive prospect with the hopes he will spark the 3-6-2 team to some victories.

The call sent the young defenseman's brain into overdrive.

"There's so much going through your head like, 'What do I bring, what is it like and am I going to play?" Boqvist said.

Before he could address those questions, Boqvist first had some phone calls of his own to make.

The first went unanswered, not surprising since it was around 5:30 a.m. in Sweden and his father, Patric, was fast asleep. Boqvist's second call was to brother, Jesper, a member of the New Jersey Devils, and that connection was made with the elder Boqvist quickly dolling out some advice.

"He told me to just play my game," Adam Boqvist said.

Video: Boqvist gets called up, joins team in LA

That game was considered the future of the Blackhawks blue line since the team drafted Boqvist with the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. The future is now for a team that has been lacking puck movement from the back end, including on the power play.

"He's a dynamic player and a great skater," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "That mobility can be a benefit to us and we just want to see where he's at. He has the potential to be on the power play and provide an element there. Our power play hasn't been good so that's a couple of reasons there."

Boqvist impressed the Blackhawks with an eye-opening development camp during the summer followed by strong efforts at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament and then training camp.

"I think he showed in preseason that he had improved," Colliton said. "We wanted to give him a little more time and that's never a bad thing to start in the minors. He was impressive to me from summer camp to last year's training camp to this year's training camp, steps he had taken so let's see if he's taken another one. He does provide an element that we don't have a ton of so there's an opportunity there for him."

Video: Colliton on Boqvist call up

By his own account, Boqvist didn't have the greatest start with the IceHogs, with just one goal in six games. That made Wednesday night's call a surprise.

"I didn't play super good down there but when the call comes you better be ready," Boqvist said.

Still, he believes he's ready for this next step.

"If not, I wouldn't be here," Boqvist said. "I'm going to go out there and hopefully play well."

It appears Boqvist will get that opportunity against the Kings as he skated alongside Duncan Keith during Friday's practice in El Segundo, Calif., and Colliton indicated the pairing is likely to hold for Saturday's game.

"A lot of times those young players when they get the chance you get an immediate boost in their play so I expect (him) to probably be pretty good whenever he does get in," Colliton said. "Then we'll take it from there."

Tweet from @NHLBlackhawks: Duncs and Boker���s little chat through the chaos 😂#Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/4nyxfjprC5

Boqvist was paired with Keith during the preseason and the two had chemistry.

"He's obviously a very skilled offensive guy," Keith said of Boqvist. "For me, it's just about being as good as I can be (because) the better I can play the easier I can make it on him. We have to communicate out there and have a good gap - all of the little things that being a defensemen kind of make up."

Said Boqvist: "I think (Keith) can help me out a lot out there. He's been in the league for a long time. I'm just going to play hard out there. Of course the guys will help me out a little bit more the first game."

There is little doubt that Boqvist has the offensive talent to play in the NHL, but it is defensively where the questions remain. To that end, he has been working on his gap control and trusting his skating to get into position.

"Good defense makes good offense so I'm just going to go out there and play hard and help my teammates," Boqvist said. "You've been working for this moment your whole life so it's really nice to be here and now I'm just going to keep it up."

Boqvist knows that nothing is guaranteed and it's possible this stint will be just a look before he is sent back to the AHL for more seasoning.

"If my name is in the lineup I'm just going to go out and play hard and help the team win," he said. "That's the only thing I can do and then it's up to the staff to make the decision if I'm going to play or not."

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