Adam Boqvist is doing his best to make the 2018 NHL Draft a two-horse race on the blue line.
Boqvist, of Brynas, has seen his stock skyrocket to the point where it isn’t blasphemy to whisper his name in the same breath as that of countryman Rasmus Dahlin.
Dahlin, of course, is the incumbent.
The Frolunda defenseman is widely considered to be the top prospect for the 2018 draft. Dahlin has been lauded the past few seasons as a special talent in the mold of Erik Karlsson, but over the course of the past eight months, that comparison has evolved as his game as developed to more of a Zach Werenski hybrid.
It’ll take some significant trending from the challengers to even push the notion of Dahlin falling from first.
But how do they compare against one another?
SKATING – DAHLIN
Dahlin is an outstanding skater with long powerful strides, making it look easy to get to top speed. He uses his edges to make smooth lateral movements and backwards transitions. He has quickness side-to-side and is able to make a quick skate cut. He is extremely mobile on his feet, especially when he skates with the puck up ice and when he needs to skate his way out of danger. He uses his speed and mobility to get back and break up plays defensively even when he rushes the puck deep into the offensive zone. Boqvist is also an excellent skater with good separation speed, utilizing strong strides in a tightly packed frame to explode down the ice. He fully extends his legs to get the most out of each stride, making him an extremely efficient skater. Boqvist is very strong on his edges and he has good lateral movement in all directions making him very quick and hard to pin down. While Boqvist is an excellent skater, Dahlin is an elite skater and he’ll get even better as he continues to add more muscle.
PUCK-HANDLING – DAHLIN
Dahlin has impressive stickhandling ability, and the confidence to pull high-skill moves along the blue line to open up lanes for himself. He’s very patient with the puck in his own end and uses his poise to hang onto the puck until he can find an open passing lane. Dahlin is able to deal with pressure and remain composed with the puck. He doesn’t shy away from going into one-on-one situations, pulling edge-of-your-seat dekes or skating it straight to the net. Boqvist isn’t as flashy in his play with the puck, but he is impressive with his decision-making and he possesses above-average puck skills himself. He handles the puck with care and uses his smooth hands to make creative plays to help his team. He skates well with the puck and will use head dekes and quick movements to get by opponents, but more often he utilizes smart passes to move the puck up ice.
SHOT – DAHLIN
Dahlin possesses a powerful shot and can be very dangerous from the point on the power play. He is able to get good power on his shots without setting his feet first, firing it on net with good accuracy and quick release. Boqvist also has a quick release on his shot and great accuracy. He gets his shots on net even if there is traffic in front. His shot is powerful and accurate. His wrist shot can be especially dangerous. While Boqvist has an excellent and very effective wrist shot from the point, Dahlin has the better slap shot and one-timer from the slot area and is the more dangerous finisher from the point.
PASSING – DAHLIN
Dahlin sees the entire ice well and opens up the game with his passing. His pass power is impressive and he can dish out the puck with impressive accuracy, even from long distances. His ability to find streaking teammates from both short and long range will serve him well at the NHL level. Boqvist handles the puck with care, making crisp smart passes and does not force things making risky plays. He uses his hockey smarts to put pucks where they will produce offensive opportunities as well, but he is just not at the same level as some of the dishes that Dahlin can make.
PLAY WITHOUT PUCK – BOQVIST
Boqvist plays aggressively on the puck carrier and uses an active stick and body to close off opponents. He patiently waits for his prey to make a mistake before he pounces on them, steals the puck and pushes the rush down the ice into the offensive zone. Boqvist has very few deficiencies in his game and knows where to be and what to do when he does not have the puck. Dahlin thinks the game offensively, is always looking for joining the rush and sneaking in offensively behind the plays. If there is one area for improvement, it would be his needs to work on his defensive zone positioning as he can get himself caught in no-men’s land while losing his check.
PHYSICALITY/STRENGTH – DAHLIN
Dahlin has shown a willingness to play the body, whether that is standing up an opponent in the neutral zone or initiating contact in his own zone. While he’s not looking for contact every shift, Dahlin isn’t afraid to play the body along the boards to separate his man from the puck and will muscle a screen out of the sightline of his goaltender. Dahlin is also not easily taken off the puck, showing good strength and balance when in possession. Although Boqvist is not nearly as big as Dahlin, he does not play a small man’s game either. He is not afraid to play the body against stronger opponents but with limited success. He plays aggressively on the puck carrier and uses an active stick and as much of his frame as he can to close gaps and interfere with plays, not giving opponents much space and time to make a play. However, physically Boqvist tends to get pushed around in his own end at times.
HOCKEY IQ – BOQVIST
Boqvist, while highly effective, isn’t all flash and dash in his offensive play like Dahlin can be, but he is impressive with his decision making in all situations. Smart and fast, Boqvist is an intuitive defender. He is adept at sneaking into open lanes in the offensive zone or keeping his eye on the dangerous late man on a play. His internal processor is extremely high end. Dahlin has shown good IQ in the offensive end and is very creative with the puck in making quick plays that lead to offensive chances for his team. But there are questions about his smarts on risk assessment and with his defensive positioning in his own zone.
So, who do you take for your team if you were drafting, and why?