Don't sleep on Jesper Boqvist
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Between Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Ty Smith, there is a lot of excitement about New Jersey's growing stable of quality young players.
One really good one who has sort of flown under the radar is my large adult son, Jesper Boqvist.
The 20-year-old forward, who is highly regarded for his speed, shiftiness, and puck skills, just put up 35 points in 52 games, which tied him for 14th in SHL scoring (he also finished 2nd at even-strength). Very few players have enjoyed that kind of success at such a young age.
Over the last 10 seasons, just 11 U21 forwards have managed to produce 35 points or more in an SHL season.
If we exclude the three that did so this year – we don't know what they will become yet – the list features five top-6 forwards (Oskar Lindblom and Andreas Johnsson established themselves as such this season), a key bottom-6er on a Stanley Cup winner in Marcus Kruger, and two other bottom-6 forwards in Calle Jarnkrok and Johan Larsson. It's pretty encouraging to see Boqvist keeping that kind of company.
Even more so when you consider some of the notables that didn't crack the list. Over the last decade, Elias Lindholm, Jakub Vrana, Artturi Lehkonen, Jakob Silfverberg, Marcus Johansson and Alexander Wennberg are just a few that played the vast majority – if not entirety – of a U21 season in the SHL and fell short of 35 points. If we expand another couple years, the same can be said of Lars Eller and Patric Hornqvist – another pair of real solid NHLers.
Producing 35+ points obviously doesn't mean Boqvist is guaranteed to become a quality NHL player but, if history is any indication, the chances seem pretty good.
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