DALLAS — The Blackhawks’ defense is a mess, a middling mixture of aging veterans and third-pairing guys with a lot left to prove.
But it might be something special in the future.
The Hawks added to their arsenal of blue-line blue-chippers Friday, choosing Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist and Canadian
defenseman Nicolas Beaudin at Nos. 8 and 27, respectively.
At just 17 years old, Boqvist is likely the least NHL-ready of the major defenseman prospects in the draft pool. But the offensive wizard who doesn’t shy away from comparing himself to Senators great Erik Karlsson might have the highest ceiling, except for No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin.
That promise was too much to pass up for the Hawks, who could have taken higher-ranked defensemen Noah Dobson or Evan Bouchard or power forward Oliver Wahlstrom at No. 8.
‘‘I just talked to [Hawks captain] Jonathan Toews,’’ Boqvist said shortly after he was selected. ‘‘He was happy to have me.’’
Boqvist and Beaudin join 2017 first-rounder Henri Jokiharju, 2017 second-rounder Ian Mitchell, 2016 second-rounder Chad Krys and 2016 fourth-rounder (and former Boqvist teammate) Lucas Carlsson as part of a tantalizing blue line of the future. Boqvist is a right-handed shot, like Jokiharju and Mitchell, while Beaudin is a lefty.
But Boqvist said at the draft combine this month that he was still two or three years away from being NHL-ready. Like many young defensemen, he’s very offensive-minded and has plenty of development ahead of him, particularly in his own end. Listed at 5-11 and 168 pounds, he said getting ‘‘bigger and stronger’’ was his priority.
‘‘I need to improve my defensive play and win more battles than I lose,’’ Boqvist said. ‘‘And be harder in front of the net. Of course, I can be better in the offensive zone and be smarter out there, too.’’
Boqvist’s long lead time wasn’t a concern for general manager Stan Bowman. Nor was the sudden logjam in the pipeline.
‘‘It’s not like they’re all going to make the NHL at the same time,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘Some of them have different time horizons. It’s so hard to trade for [defensemen]. If you don’t draft them and develop them, you have a hard time finding them.’’
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Boqvist, one of the youngest prospects in the draft, doesn’t turn 18 until Aug. 15. He had five goals and 12 assists in 19 games with Swedish national teams this past season and 14 goals and 10 assists in 25 games in the Swedish juniors.
The Hawks always have had an affinity for Swedish defensemen, something Boqvist noted.
‘‘Adam is a very gifted puck-moving defenseman,’’ director of scouting Mark Kelley said. ‘‘More visible probably offensively than defensively, but he creates offense.’’
As for Beaudin, the Hawks have had their eye on him for a while. So even though playmaking center Joe Veleno was surprisingly still on the board, they chose his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teammate Beaudin, another blue-liner with a high ceiling. Beaudin, who will turn 19 on Oct. 9, had 12 goals and 57 assists in 68 games for Drummondville. He’s from goalie Corey Crawford’s hometown of Chateauguay, Quebec.
Beaudin compared himself to the Bruins’ Torey Krug and said he wanted to add that kind of ‘‘meanness’’ to his game.
‘‘I’m a two-way defenseman,’’ Beaudin said. ‘‘I can provide offense, too. I’ve got a great IQ. I think in my zone I’m just getting better and better.’’
‘‘You watch him play, and he makes it look really easy,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well, and he had over a point a game, too.’’
The Hawks don’t have a second-round pick, thanks to the ill-fated trade that sent Phil Danault to the Canadiens for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann in 2016, but they have an extra third-round pick, thanks to the trade that sent Michal Kempny to the Capitals in February. Bowman said he hopes to use that Saturday to move back into the second round.