That is what Adam Boqvist has been for the Blue Jackets' last four games. However, with Nick Blankenburg likely out for Tuesday's game with an upper-body injury, he could have his chance to prove he belongs in the lineup.
In three games this season, Boqvist has been on the ice for 50:45, including 4:38 of power play time. He's recorded two shots on goal and zero penalty minutes. At 5v5, he has a 51.09 xGF% (50% means the expected goals for and expected goals against while on the ice are the same), which ranks fourth among Jackets defensemen, per naturalstattrick.com.
Right place and right time for Adam Boqvist. pic.twitter.com/Abt9RBP04F— NHL (@NHL) November 16, 2021
Last season, Boqvist scored 11 goals in 52 games and showed flashes of being the elite offensive-defenseman he was expected to be when the Blackhawks selected him eighth overall in 2018. But, for whatever reason, Brad Larsen hasn't had him in the lineup in over a week.
The Jackets will miss Blankenburg's energy and ability both offensively and defensively as well as his physicality. If Boqvist gets the nod to play in Blankenburg's spot, will his game look different than it did the first three games of the season? Does Boqvist need to be more physical and defensively responsible to stay in the lineup?
Great save by Boqvist pic.twitter.com/E8W7jJcz8O— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 14, 2022
We should be able to find out the answers to some of these questions at Tuesday's morning skate and then at Tuesday's game against Arizona if Boqvist does indeed return to the lineup.
If he does play, he's got the chance to force Larsen to keep him in the lineup. In terms of the standings, this upcoming week could be make-or-break for the Jackets, and if they could get the best version of Adam Boqvist, that would go a long way to getting to and above 500.