Staying in the QMJHL!
After closing out last week talking about Zachary L’Heureux, we’re staying in the QMJHL and popping over to Rimouski for our next profile. Breaking onto the draft board at 24 is Zachary Bolduc, a maybe center, maybe winger with some exciting offensive tools who put up a pretty solid, though relatively brief, season with Rimouski. Let’s get into it!
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 24: Zachary Bolduc
Team: Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
Stats: 10 G, 19 A in 27 GP
No. 17 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
No. 28 by Dobber Prospects
No. 25 by FC Hockey
No. 35 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
As we alluded to in the introduction, Bolduc’s offensive game is what really jumps off the page, so to speak. His wrist shot is very good, and is good from a distance, to boot. He has a quick release, good power, and can elevate that shot well to pick corners, and we’ve seen it give opposing goalies a lot of trouble.
That said, his real bread and butter is in more high danger areas. He has great hands in tight to pick up rebounds or receive a pass through the crease, and while we do need to see him continue to build his strength (that will come with time and age, of course), he is already strong enough to hold his own playing in this spot with some regularity.
On top of that, though, he’s also a strong passer, with a particularly strong backhand pass, but overall he does possess strong enough vision to be an all around quick and accurate passer through traffic. That comes into play for him in his impacts in transition, as well. We see him comfortable starting up a breakout on his own and utilizing a nice stretch pass, but he’s also quite confident in skating the puck through the neutral zone as well.
He’s a fine skater, not stellar, but there’s a good foundation there. His edge work is the high point, and that helps him in transition as well—we see him flashing some elusive maneuvering to buy himself time, if he’s starting a breakout. It can be tough to pressure him, there’s a definite coolness with the puck in those situations.
What’s not to like?
There are some smaller issues we could point to to start this. For starters, his skating could use a bit of work. It’s not a flat out weakness, but his power and acceleration could still use some work. Additionally, his stick work in general needs work as well. There isn’t a whole lot of flash in that department, and his puck security is in need of some real development.
But the big thing is his defensive game needing work, both in transition and in the defensive zone. We noted that Bolduc has shown some strength in moving the puck in transition, but he’s struggled to keep pace in defending it, too often getting caught chasing or reaching with his stick to try to break up plays. The big thing is inconsistency, though, in his positioning and on his intensity on the forecheck, puck battles and in his efforts in getting back defensively.
Now, some of this comes from him still straddling this sort of middle ground—he was moved from center to wing when he got to Rimouski, and there are times when you can see him working through thinking “do I play this like a winger or like a center, what do I do here?” So he could benefit from some more coaching there, as well as just getting stronger as he develops and matures, but we do still need to see some more from him in terms of his own jump.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
There’s been a bit of weirdness when it comes to Bolduc’s position—he’s a natural center and has played that position for most of his career, but he spent most of his time in Rimouski playing on the wing, and that’s understandably been a real adjustment for him. This opens some questions about just how he’s going to develop, but if he’s able to develop (even just in part) as a center at the professional level, that would certainly be a big add for the Flyers. Adding a skilled winger certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing, but center is where they’re thinnest, and picking up a player who at least offers the option of playing that position would be a big boost.
But as for the fit with his style of play, this would be a bit of a mixed bag. The offensive impacts already look quite good, and if they continue to develop, you’re getting a very exciting prospect, and that’s certainly enticing. But the Flyers do tend to like a player who also brings some defensive responsibility, and that’s where the concern about Bolduc’s game comes in. It might not be an issue if they feel like they can develop that part of his game and have it all be fine, but this fit doesn’t feel quite like a slam dunk.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
There’s a bit of variance on where Bolduc’s projected to be picked, but regardless of where in the projected range he does go, it’s safe to say that he’ll be available for the Flyers to pick. He would be a bit of a reach if they hang on to the 13th pick, but he would certainly be an option if they decide to trade back again this time around.
We’ll also make one addition to the poll:
Francesco Pinelli — C, Kitchener Rangers/HDD Jesenice
Pinelli’s game is archetypal of the way the game is trending. He’s a slick, creative puckhandler and facilitator who manipulates set structures to create lanes for himself, slicing pucks through and around feet and sticks. He’s also light and airy on his blades, with skating mechanics around quick cuts and adjustable edges more than straight-line power. He’s an entertaining, puck-dominant east-west player who thrives when he gets a lot of touches. – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, Nove Zamky (Slovakia)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Luke Hughes — D, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 / J20 Nationell – 21/22
- Kent Johnson — W, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Aatu Räty — C, Kärpät U20 and Kärpät (Liiga)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå (SHL)
- Mason McTavish — C, EHC Olten (SL)
- Cole Sillinger — C/LW, Sioux (USHL)
- Chaz Lucius — C, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Fabian Lysell — LW/RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Carson Lambos — D, JYP U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
- Matthew Coronato — F, Chicago Steel (USHL)
- Nikita Chibrikov — LW/RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL), SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
- Sasha Pastujov — LW, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Corson Ceulemans — D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
- Oskar Olausson — LW/RW, HV71 (SHL)
- Brennan Othmann — LW, EHC Olten (SL)
- Logan Stankoven — C/W, Kamloops (WHL)
- Zachary L’Heureux — LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
- Zachary Bolduc — C/W, Rimouski (QMJHL)