Samuel Bolduc just signed a three-year ELC with the New York Islanders. What do you we need to know about the 2019 second-round pick?
Drafted in the second round of the 2019 entry draft, Samuel Bolduc made a splash with the Islanders thanks to a strong showing during his first training camp. He’d go back to junior, but his name was officially on the radar now.
Bolduc had a strong season between the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix in 2019-20 where he scored a career-high 43 points in 61 games. The 19-year-old will be eligible to play in the AHL this season where he’ll join a growing core of blueliners like Sebastian Aho, Grant Hutton, and Bode Wilde as well as recent signing Adam Brubacher.
We’ll get to know Bolduc over the next few years, but what can we learn about him now? Here’s what I’ve been able to cobble together.
At 6’4″ 212lbs, Samuel Bolduc is an imposing figure. He may only be 19 (he turns 20 at the start of December) but he already has a man’s body.
You might think that a player with his size would use said size to boss opponents around the ice, but that isn’t necessarily the case with Bolduc. Draft Dynasty put together a comprehensive profile of the Isles prospect and noted that he doesn’t use his body enough.
Also, going through a few scouting reports (included at the end of this piece), Bolduc is repeatedly knocked for his lack of physical play considering his physique.
Over 61 games this season, Bolduc put 175 shots towards the net. That’s 2.86 per game. The kid likes to shoot and typically finds the net. With a cannon slap shot, this accuracy makes him much more dangerous.
The QMJHL doesn’t have a ton of advanced stats but they do provide one-shot metrics called “Dangerous Shots”. Of 100 defensemen, Bolduc ranks eleventh with 33 dangerous shots. That’s a 20 percent dangerous shot efficiency.
That slapper is an asset on the power play.
He moves the puck well on the man-advantage and does well to find gaps for that big shot of his. Though some scouts have said that he’s a bit too happy to use that slap shot, even when an opening isn’t necessarily there.
On the power play, Bolduc has put up 16 assists ranking him sixth in the QMJHL for defensemen. Playing in the best team in the ‘Q’ certainly helped him, but it’s clear that he can add something to a power play rather than be a passenger.
He’s a good passer, but if anything he’s a bit inconsistent. Specifically with that first pass out of the zone. At times Bolduc makes it seem easy to pick out teammates exiting the zone but other times he makes a complete mess of an up-ice pass and needlessly turns the puck over.
Mark Allan – Dobert Prospects (March 2020)
"Showing signs of being dominant at times in the QMJHL, Bolduc sometimes falls in love with his slapshot, and could benefit from mixing in a good wrist shot more. His skating is good for a big boy, powered by a long, strong stride. Especially considering his size, he could be more physical, but it might not be in his nature. His passing can be inconsistent and he does not always make the best decisions, but that might be just inexperience."
Bill Placzek – Draftsite (2019)
"His positive play against his CHL draft peers in the Prospect game helped too. Displays good puck control and can even one-hand it to get some room to move out in transition. Protects the biscuit very well. Does so many little things well already. Gets open as an outlet for his forwards, dominates the wall play. His aggressive demeanor on the boards and in front of his net, wins pucks and makes impressions"
Steven Ellis – The Hockey News (June 2019)
"The biggest knock on his game is how he can get caught letting opponents move freely around the net and that he sometimes doesn’t use his size to his advantage when in front of his own crease. However, he has the power one craves from a bottom-pairing NHL defender."
Scott Wheeler – The Athletic* (January 2020)
"He’s got a heavy shot (both with a windup and without), which he does a good job putting through seams and keeping low, even if he has a tendency to have it blocked or miss the net. […] For a while, I felt like he had third-pairing upside. Starting to think he may have a little more than that in him"
Corey Pronman – The Atheltic* (April 2020)
"He’s big and mobile, has some offensive touch, but I’m not convinced he’s a natural puck-mover for the NHL level"
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After four years in the QMJHL, the next step for Samuel Bolduc with the New York Islanders will be the AHL. There he’ll join a program that’s had recent success in churning out NHL caliber defensemen for the Islanders. We’ll see if Bolduc can be yet another prospect to pass through the ‘A’ and into the big show.