At the start of the 2022-23 season, the sixth spot on the NY Islanders' blue line was up for grabs. The top four was set with the duo of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, while the newly acquired Alexander Romanov was slotted next to Noah Dobson. That left Scott Mayfield on the third pair with a big question mark on his left. Robin Salo was expected to fill the role, but he had to beat Sebastian Aho and Dennis Cholowski out for the spot. That didn't quite happen as Salo is still finding his game, Cholowski got a short look, and Aho who has lasted the longest. However, enter Samuel Bolduc, and suddenly the Islanders have a legitimate candidate to remain on the blue line long-term.
The Islanders take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight when they visit UBS Arena for the first time with Bo Horvat as a member of the Islanaders and Anthony Beauvillier a Canuck. Morning skate revealed theat Islanders head coach Lane Lambert is slotting Bolduc in next to Mayfield on the third pair in favor of Aho with Romanov returning to the lineup.
"(We have) a lot of trust in (Bolduc)," Lambert explained. "We've talked about his poise, and he's got size, his reach. He does a lot of the little things well, good stick positioning and things like that. He's done a good job."
Bolduc scored his first NHL goal on Tuesday night opening the scoring against the Seattle Kraken. It was a poised play where Bolduc received a pass on the line from Mayfield, found a lane, and fired the puck through traffic past Martin Jones. He's not an offensive powerhouse, but a quick look at Natural Stat Trick reveals the Islanders are creating more chances to score than they are against when Bolduc is on the ice with a 53.24 CF% and 57.29 xGF%.
It makes you wonder what's in store for Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello heading into the trade deadline. Mayfield is on an expiring contract and could certainly retrieve the Islanders a desirable asset. With Bolduc's consistent play and display of poise, it's no wonder the Islanders have so much trust in him so quickly and it just may affect what the blue line looks like in a few weeks.