2020-21 Team: Rimouski Oceanic (#15)
Date of Birth: February 24th, 2003
Place of Birth: Trois-Rivieres, QC, CAN
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 17th (amongst NA skaters)
- FCHockey: 13th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 29th
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 34th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 22nd
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 17th
- Smaht Scouting: 40th
- The Draft Analyst: 23rd
- Dobber Prospects: 34th
The Rimouski Oceanic had a player drafted first overall in 2020 for the third time in their history. Alexis Lafreniere joined Sidney Crosby and Vincent Lecavalier as the third player in their history to have that distinguished honor. With Lafreniere in the NHL, the Oceanic had big shoes to fill and Bolduc has done that. He leads the team in total points and trails only second-year draft eligible Xavier Cormier for the point per game lead.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
Bolduc is an enigmatic prospect. He has good size and skates very well. His vision and hockey intelligence are amongst the best in the QMJHL. Despite this, at times, he seems to make awful reads and fire the puck down the rink for an icing when there were several good options. Perhaps it is a lack of giving it all each shift or maybe he just isn’t as good as he seems, but rather gets lucky with some of his reads. Though the latter seems unlikely, it is really hard to tell sometimes.
When he is at his best though, he looks like a clear top prospect in this draft. He can skate his way out of or around trouble. He can (usually) find teammates and set them up for scoring chances. When he’s not doing any of those things, he is using his shot, which is also very good. Though he could be a bit more selective, his shot is above average. In fact, taking all of his best qualities, it is easy to see why some have him as a likely top selection.
According to QMJHL Dobber Prospects scout Brayden Olafson, the consistency of Bolduc’s game has improved since the QMJHL January reboot to the 2020-21 season. The game-to-game and shift-to-shift inconsistencies are diminished and he is looking more and more like a solid top 20 prospect. His defensive game leaves some to be desired still, but most of the limitations to Bolduc’s game seem coachable. The raw tools he possesses aren’t so easy to come by.
“Although far from a model for consistency, Zach Bolduc is at times one of the most thrilling and athletically gifted draft-eligible players in the QMJHL.” -Brayden Olafson, DobberProspects (personal communication)
“Bolduc is an easy choice to label as the Q’s premier forward prospect because of the pro feel to anything he does. Bolduc’s got good size for a center… his strong puck control, vision, and shot release allow him to switch over to wing and still succeed.” Steve Kourianos, The Draft Analyst
“He’s a player with a high skill level who can skate, which is immediately intriguing. Bolduc has the ability to play fast and make tough plays with the puck on the move. He’s not an elite playmaker, but he moves the puck very well and can clearly finish plays.” -Corey Pronman, The Athletic (The 2021 NHL Draft ranking: Corey Pronman’s top 35 prospects, Oct. 8, 2020)
Zachary Bolduc – NHL Draft Projection
Bolduc is probably one of, if not the prospect where scouts disagree the most for this 2021 draft. In fact, they can often disagree with themselves as viewings can lead them to believe he is either a first or a fourth-round pick, sometimes in the same game (Tony Ferrari, Managing editor and head scout at Dobber Prospects via personal communication). Considering this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bolduc taken in the top 15, or in the second round. I doubt he falls to the third or fourth round, but anything is possible.
- Hockey Sense
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
The biggest area of improvement for Bolduc is in his consistency. He can be clearly the best player on the ice one game and nearly invisible in others. Sometimes even from shift to shift. He also struggles defensively at times, though that has been better in the latter part of the season.
According to Olafson of Dobber Prospects, “Bolduc has the raw traits of a boom or bust prospect, who is developed with care, could blossom into a top-line NHL player” (personal communication). There is also the possibility that he does not develop appropriately and fails to make an NHL impact or possibly carves out a bottom-six NHL role. He clearly has the raw ability to be a top-six NHLer, he just needs the right development.
- CWG Champion – 2018-2019
- QGC-16 Champion – 2018-2019
- QMJHL All-Rookie Team – 2019-2020
- QMJHL Most Goals by Rookie (30) – 2019-2020
- QMJHL Offensive Rookie of the Year (Michel Bergeron Trophy) – 2019-2020
- QMJHL Rookie of the Year – 2019-2020
Zachary Bolduc Statistics
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. Follow me @VictorNuno12