The Chicago Blackhawks own the 11th overall selection in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft. We’re offering some thoughts on players the Hawks might consider when they’re on the clock at this year’s draft.
Thus far we have discussed forwards Matthew Coronado, Chaz Lucius, Mason McTavish, Aatu Raty and Brennan Othmann and Cole Sillinger. Now let’s talk about Zachary Bolduc.
6-1 / 175
Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
Ranked #16 by TSN/McKenzie
Ranked #17 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #56 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #34 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #29 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #45 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #25 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #28 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #16 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #23 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #16 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #43 by SMAHT SCOUTING
Ranked #26 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
From Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
#33 overall prospect
Puck Skills: Average
Hockey Sense: Below-average
“Bolduc’s numbers were good (29 points in 27 games), not as great as expected but he got better as the season went on to build off his strong underage season. Bolduc is a talented forward who has a lot of elements that will translate to the pro game. He can skate well and make highly skilled plays on the move. Bolduc has very good hand-eye coordination, showing the ability to make unique plays in small areas and around the net. He doesn’t have the hard, long-range shot, but Bolduc has shown he can score goals and do so by capitalizing on his chances in the slot and net areas. He can see the ice well enough, making creative plays and moving the puck where he needs to even if that’s not his top asset. His compete is good enough. Bolduc won’t run guys over or be your top competitor but he wins enough battles. In a sentence, Bolduc projects as a middle-six forward, at either center or the wing in the NHL.”
From Chris Peters’ Hockey Sense
#26 overall prospect
“Bolduc’s star was on the rise coming into the season after he put up 52 points in 55 games as a QMJHL rookie. This season, Bolduc averaged over a point per game, but I think even more offensive dominance was expected of him. An injury knocked him out of the season early, though. Bolduc has a solid frame that he can tack strength onto and good soft-touch skills with excellent offensive timing. I’d like to see him be a bit tougher to play against down low and get a little more of a work rate in the corners. He also strikes me as more of a finisher than a play driver, which is fine. Bolduc’s skill and offensive sense put him in the discussion to be a future top-six forward at the next level.”
Bolduc is a solid skater. He could stand to work on his first step and his acceleration, but it isn’t a weakness. If he can lengthen his stride though, it will be even better. His top-end speed is well-above average. Bolduc keeps up with the play and can threaten defenders off the rush. Where he really excels is in his edgework and agility. He can change directions on a dime and his shiftiness allows him to beat defenders through the neutral zone. It also allows him to make a quick shift in position in the offensive zone to create a passing or shooting lane. Bolduc can get stronger though. As he adds strength to his lower body, he will improve his balance and ability to win battles on the boards.
Bolduc has an excellent wrist shot, snap shot and slap shot. He is accurate and shows good power. His wrist shot and snap shot also feature a decent release but there is a bit of room to improve. Bolduc loves to shoot and will take shots from anywhere on the ice. With his good shot, he can score from the perimeter on junior goalies. That said, he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice and can score from inside the home plate area as well. He might even shoot a bit too much, to the detriment of his passing skills and making plays to drive the net at times.
Bolduc’s stickhandling is inconsistent. There are nights where he can dangle through traffic and make plays. There are other nights where he seems to lose the puck easily. He also has some inconsistency in his playmaking. He has the skill to put the puck through tight areas, but he doesn’t always make the right play. There is some question about his patience as he seems to rush things at times. One can also question his vision and whether he takes the time to see all that is available to him.
Bolduc’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He needs to be more disciplined in his assignments as he can get caught puck watching and lose his man away from the play. He also has a tendency to fly the zone early, looking for the long breakaway pass but leaving his team at a disadvantage if they don’t exit the zone successfully. When he is in good position, Bolduc favours a poke check or a stick lift vs taking the body. He doesn’t always get involved in physical battles down low. When a turnover is created, Bolduc can sometimes rush things. He doesn’t always make the smart play in transition, instead, he looks to get it off his stick quickly. This can lead to him rushing a dump off the glass or creating an icing instead of making a play. This is an area he will need to improve.
Projection and Comparison
Bolduc is a bit of a boom or bust prospect. There are aspects of his game that are very high-end and show the ability to be a top-line player. However, he is wildly inconsistent. There are also games where he just isn’t noticeable on the ice. With his defensive issues and his questionable vision and hockey IQ, he will be best suited to be a winger than a centre at the next level. If he can work on these things, and even improve them a little, he could become a solid NHL player. However, if he does not, he will be the type of player who drives coaches and fanbases crazy as the untapped potential is obvious. When he is at his best, Bolduc’s game resembles Jakub Vrana, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.