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Undrafted Blomqvist Blossoming

Friday, 08.08.2014 / 11:23 AM / News Articles
By Dan Marrazza
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Undrafted Blomqvist Blossoming
Axel Blomqvist has always had all the tools. But the forward who the Winnipeg Jets signed as an undrafted free agent last October has only recently been able to wield his tools in ways that make him a legitimate NHL prospect. The turning point for the Swedish-born Blomqvist was a timely trade last November that saw him leave the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the Victoria Royals.

Axel Blomqvist has always had all the tools.

But the forward who the Winnipeg Jets signed as an undrafted free agent last October has only recently been able to wield his tools in ways that make him a legitimate NHL prospect.

The turning point for the Swedish-born Blomqvist was a timely trade last November that saw him leave the Lethbridge Hurricanes for the Victoria Royals.

The development that most inspired Blomqvist’s transformation from underachiever to high achiever was how his trade to Victoria landed him in the hands of Dave Lowry. The intense former NHL grinder turned coach uses his no-nonsense attitude to make Victoria one of the most soundly-run junior hockey operations in Canada.

“I think the expectation to play on our team is that you have to play a certain way,” says Lowry, who is also the father of Jets prospect Adam Lowry.

“You have to come, you have to work and you have to compete. Axel adhered to our requirements, and was given an opportunity.”

In his opportunity to leave Lethbridge –which won only 12 of its 72 games last season – and immerse himself into a more productive environment in Victoria, Blomqvist discovered the potential that Kevin Cheveldayoff’s staff recognized in him last fall.

From a pure offensive standpoint, Blomqvist was nearly a point-per-game player in Victoria, where his output was 43 points (16g, 27a) in 46 games. These post-trade totals gave him a combined 24 goals and 32 assists for the season, a big improvement from the seven-goal, 33-point numbers he posted in his first season after moving from Sweden to the Western Hockey League in 2012-13.

“The trade was huge for me,” says Blomqvist. “I played some really good hockey (in Victoria), put up points and played hard. And that’s what I want to do; be a two-way guy, put up points and be hard to play against. Now when you watch me, I’m always one of the most physical guys out there, too.”

“Axel has really good hands,” adds Lowry. “He has the intangibles, he has the size and good hands.

“What we’ve gotten him to understand is that you have to work, you have to compete and the ability, if you are strong on the puck, will create opportunities. Puck protection is critical, as is using your size to drive the net and putting pucks in areas that it’s tough for the opposition to get it away from you.”

Blomqvist is set to enter his final junior season in Victoria with a strong chance of playing for Team Sweden in the World Juniors, and with his rare combination of size and skill, the forward is well on his way to becoming an important part of the Jets’ future.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 66 42 17 7 196 179 91
2 NSH 65 41 17 7 193 158 89
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 WPG 65 32 21 12 180 175 76
6 VAN 63 36 24 3 182 173 75
7 MIN 63 34 22 7 179 163 75
8 CGY 63 34 25 4 178 162 72
9 LAK 63 30 21 12 171 164 72
10 SJS 65 32 25 8 185 183 72
11 COL 64 28 25 11 170 183 67
12 DAL 64 28 26 10 199 212 66
13 ARI 64 20 37 7 139 218 47
14 EDM 64 18 36 10 145 213 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Ladd 65 22 30 13 52
B. Little 65 24 27 10 51
B. Wheeler 63 17 29 13 46
D. Byfuglien 65 15 27 6 42
M. Perreault 56 18 18 3 36
M. Scheifele 65 10 26 2 36
M. Frolik 65 14 20 5 34
D. Stafford 59 11 17 -20 28
J. Tlusty 55 13 11 -19 24
E. Kane 37 10 12 -1 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Hutchinson 19 8 5 .918 2.34
O. Pavelec 13 13 7 .909 2.57
 
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