The San Jose Sharks selected Thomas Bordeleau with the 38th pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He was a standout for the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) during his draft season and despite his small stature of 5’9”, the Sharks saw big potential from the pivot.
So far this season, he has done nothing but increase expectations for NHL success.
The Size of the Dog
One of the biggest knocks on Bordeleau leading up to the draft was certainly his size. Playing center for the USNTDP, there were questions of him being able to do that at higher levels. His first test came this season against bigger and stronger competition at the University of Michigan. So far so good. Bordeleau leads the Wolverines with 25 points in just 18 games. The next closest is 2021 draft-eligible, and likely first-rounder Kent Johnson with 22 in 20.
Bordeleau leads fellow USNTDP graduate and 2020 first-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, Brendan Brisson. He has 18 points in 18 games, still very good for a rookie, but not quite as impressive as Bordeleau. Head coach Mel Pearson has been impressed with his 11-member freshman class overall. The stacked Wolverines have yet another 2021 projected first-round pick in Matthew Beniers. He was lucky enough to win gold at the World Junior Championships for the United States, something Bordeleau was not able to do as roommate John Beecher tested positive for COVID-19.
Bordeleau leads the NCAA freshmen in total points, three ahead of teammate Johnson and Robert Morris University forward Randy Hernandez. His 1.39 points per game are also first for Freshman ahead of Johnson’s 1.10 and Hernandez’s 1.05. He only has seven goals, but his 18 assists rank him fifth, overall, tied with Cole Caufield and Linus Weissbach, both of Wisconsin. If he keeps this up, the freshman might even get consideration for the Hobey Baker.
Only two freshmen have ever won the Hobey Baker, Paul Kariya in 1983 And Jack Eichel in 2015. Kariya’s ridiculous 100 points in just 39 games for the University of Maine will likely never be topped. His 2.56 points-per-game mark makes Eichel’s 1.78 seem like a disappointment. It’s pretty unlikely that Bordeleau gets serious consideration. Kariya and Eichel are pretty tough company to keep, which shows just how impressive Bordeleau’s start has been in the NCAA.
After the 2020 NHL entry draft, I had Bordeleau in tier two of the Sharks prospect pyramid. It is a crowded tier with defenders, forwards, and a goalie all in there. He is making a case that he might be the most deserving to rise to the top of that tier. In fact, in their rankings, Elite Prospects’ director of North American Scouting Mitchell Brown has Bordeleau atop the Sharks prospect list. According to Hockey Prospecting, he has the highest star potential of any of the forwards at 12%, though this number hasn’t yet been updated to including his blistering NCAA start, so it should be even higher.
Bordeleau will certainly look to continue his high-scoring pace and continue to round out the rest of his game. Michigan is currently third in the Big 10 and hope to finish strong as their youth continues to carry them. Perhaps all the way to the Frozen Four. It’s uncertain whether Bordeleau will return for a sophomore season or turn pro, either way, Sharks fans are doing their best to contain their excitement for the young forward.
Victor Nuño is a physician in private practice in Santa Cruz and an associate professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine at Touro University in California. He is an avid hockey fan ever since the San Jose Sharks joined the NHL in 1991. He plays, watches, and consumes everything related to hockey, but especially the Sharks and AHL affiliate Barracuda. In addition, he is a father to two beautiful young girls and husband to a wonderful wife.