Zach Werenski's typical defensive partner has moved on.
Although Seth Jones was traded to the Blackhawks, the Blue Jackets were able to pry Adam Boqvist from Chicago in return. Boqvist is a young, offensively-minded defenseman who will likely quarterback the Blue Jackets' second power-play unit.
At just 20 (he'll turn 21 in August), Boqvist has already played the equivalent of an NHL season over the past two years, notching 76 games with Chicago. Werenski was once in Boqvist's shoes as a young defenseman with great potential and offensive upside, and now, he'll get the chance to be the mentor.
"I think I can learn a lot from him," Boqvist told Bob McElligott. "Zach has that style that I want to play. Sometimes you see him below the goal line. I think he's a great hockey player and I can't wait to meet him."
All of a sudden, the Blue Jackets have an incredibly deep, young, and talented defensive group. Werenski (24), Boqvist (20), Jake Bean (23), and Andrew Peeke (23) could blossom into the top four defensemen on the team. There's not a single defenseman on the roster older than Scott Harrington and Dean Kukan, who are both senior citizens at the age of 28. It will be an exciting season to watch their development.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, going into the draft, had one of the worst prospect systems in the league. With the additions of Boqvist and Bean and what they came away with at the draft, their prospect pool is now at least average. Quite the overhaul over a 48 hour period! pic.twitter.com/DlFRHbl5zK— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) July 27, 2021
There will also be development to watch in the forward group. Patrik Laine (23), Jack Roslovic (24), Alexandre Texier (21), Kevin Stenlund (24), Emil Bemstrom (22), and Yegor Chinakhov (20) will all take strides during the season. Boqvist and Bemstrom are good friends, and Boqvist knows that he and Bemstrom can push each other to that next level this season.
"I've been hanging out with him in the summer, and he's a great guy," Boqvist said of Bemstrom. "He was excited to have me on the team. He called me a couple times. It's going to be a lot of fun. He's probably in the same position as me. I haven't taken the next step, but hopefully this year we can do it and help each other out."
With the acquisitions of Boqvist and Bean, as well as a solid NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets have quickly replenished their cupboard. As long as development goes smoothly, Werenski-Boqvist and Bean-Peeke could become synonymous with Blue Jackets hockey.