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Free Agency: RFAs - Jesper Boqvist

May 25, 2023, 1:18 PM ET [11 Comments]
Guest Writer
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First, I want to thank HockeyBuzz for the opportunity to write about the Devils as well as the positive feedback from readers regarding the first article. Again, this is my first foray into sports journalism. If there is an area of growth, please let me know. I also made a typo in my first article, forgetting to subtract Nathan Bastian’s possible $1.3M cap hit from our projected budget. With that in mind, today’s article will begin with the following available cap space: $32,782,500.

Continuing our theme from yesterday, the Devil’s primary goal should be to keep essential and helpful pieces of its core together as it grows into a deeper playoff contender. We made great headway the last few years with locking up our offense long term with Hischier, Hughes, and Palat. Our defense is also well padded with Hamilton, Marino and Sieganthaler. As we explore options to improve, we should also value stability and avoid any backsteps. Here are the RFAs with my suggestions, which will be reflected in each article in the series (UFAs, free agents and trades, youth pieces, etc. will be the next series)”

Nathan Bastian - Resigned $1.3M (could be 1-3 years, up to Bastian/Devils)
Jesper Boqvist
Jesper Bratt
Michael McCleod
Timo Meier
Yegor Sharangovich

Kevin Bahl

MacKenzie Blackwood

Our next RFA to discuss is:

Jesper Boqvist
Fun Fact: Boqvist’s hometown of Falun, Sweden was also the birthplace of actress Lina Leandersson, the vampire girl in Let the Right One In (solid movie, ehh American remake.) Falun is also where American airmen in WWII were interred after landing in Sweden, though their conditions (hotels, relative freedom) were much better than other countries’ POW camps.

Season Storyline:
Drafted in 2017 in the 2nd round, Boqvist has been a bit of a question mark. Initially, regarding his early 2nd round selection, there may have been expectations of a mid-6 forward coming out the gate. However, he played sparingly in his first two seasons, getting single digits point totals while bouncing back to minor league time and a one season stint in HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s AHL-comparable league. Following growth in production and comfort at the more competitive NHL level, he’s started to carve a niche for himself as a bottom 6 utility forward, playing both wings and centers.

Stat Analysis:
First, the good news: he’s grown as a player each year in the league. He may have produced 2 less points in 24 more games from last season to this one, but he’s expanded his wheelhouse to become a better defensive forward, going from -9 to a +8. He also has attained some playoff experience. The bad news: where other players like him use grit to find points in the playoffs, he struggled. No points and basically a non-factor once the Hurricanes series began, only playing 6+ minutes in Game 1 before being replaced by Curtis Lazar on 4th line for Game 2.

Benefits and Drawbacks for Bringing Back:
Benefits - Versatile 2-way forward with flashes of creativity and patience under pressure
Drawbacks - Still trying to find his footing, 3rd line hype with 4th line results

Should we keep him:
Verdict - Yes, for the right price and term. A moderate cap hit for his skill level at 1-2 years will be able to prove if he is deserving of an early 2nd round pick in 2017.

Comparable Contract:
Boqvist may use his point production per game from last season (.41) over this one (.30) and plus minus growth from the past two seasons (+17 differential) as a strength. Comparable players at his age and those stats would be:

Warren Foegele, EDM - $2.750 M
Blake Lizotte, LAK - $1.675 M

Those two have eerily similar numbers to Boqvist when you look at the categories listed above.

As his contract will expire at $874K, the range is between $1.5M and $2.8M. I would shoot for $1.7M - $2M short term possibly. If Boqvist can elevate his game without losing his defensive chops and crack 30-40+ points for each of the two seasons, a whole different situation salary-wise could happen. Also, at that price short term, he’s not a bad rental option for another team if we end up trading him. If he takes a $2M AAV for 2 years, we’re looking at:

Leftover Cap - $30,782,500

Leave your thoughts or comments below. Raise Hell!

-Josh Biringer
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