Zachary Bolduc’s plan was simple. The Canadian forward would play in the USHL in hopes of pursuing an NCAA career. But after two games in the USHL with Sioux City at the beginning of this season, Bolduc shocked the hockey world in October when he announced that he would be heading to the QMJHL and signing with the Rimouski Oceanic.
The next day, Bolduc played in his first game with the Oceanic. It took him two shifts to score his first goal in the Q. When the season was all said and done (albeit early), Bolduc finished with 52 points in 55 games and was the only QMJHL rookie to reach the 30-goal mark this season. Bolduc also contributed two goals and five points in five games with Canada Red at the 2019 U-17 WHC.
Bolduc played on both special teams for an offensively stacked Oceanic team (see: Alexis Lafreniere). He contributed 13 powerplay goals and even one shorthanded tally. Five of his goals were game-winners and, on the rare occasion that Rimouski found themselves in a shootout, Bolduc scored once on two opportunities alone.
There’s no denying Bolduc’s knack for scoring. The talented forward boasts a heavy, accurate shot with a whippy release that has fooled multiple goalies in the Q this season. He doesn’t just score off wrist and snapshots, though. Bolduc is also willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice and crash the crease in search of loose pucks to bang into the net. He has great hands, puck control, and hand-eye coordination, batting pucks in from midair if necessary.
Bolduc has a long, smooth skating stride that gives him the ability to separate himself from players chasing him and maintaining possession of the puck. Despite still needing to put on weight, Bolduc is strong when coming in on the rush carrying the puck. He can get pucks off even with players draped all over him. His playmaking ability also shouldn’t be ignored — Bolduc can find his teammates with passes from anywhere on the ice.
Despite the center depth Rimouski had this season, Bolduc also got an opportunity to play down the middle, spending a fair bit of time in the faceoff circle. It was a bit of an adjustment, as he only had a 47.3% efficiency there, but the centerman is normally excellent in draws and that’s somewhere that he’ll have to improve upon.
His defensive game isn’t necessarily a weakness, as Bolduc does a good job reading plays and making sure he’s not out of position in his own end. Also unafraid to use his body to force players off pucks, Bolduc just needs to work details when playing in his own end. With overage centers Cedric Pare and Nicolas Guay graduating from the Q, Bolduc will get an opportunity to likely center the Oceanic’s top line next season and truly drive the team’s offense.
Strengths: Offense, Vision, Skating
To Improve: Defense, Consistency
When Bolduc has control of the puck, he is really difficult to stop on the ice due to his excellent puck-protection and good speed. He is the kind of player who is capable of taking both offensive and defensive responsibilities. [2019 Black Book]
Bolduc has top-notched skill. He can make plays in tight, has good vision, and shoots it a ton. He’s been deadly on the power play and his skill set should allow him to mature into a 5-on-5 producer. He’s a one-trick pony right with plenty to learn about playing both sides of the puck. [Sportsnet]
A power-play specialist, the puck spends a lot of time on Bolduc’s stick and he’s often the top-shooting forward on his team. He’s not the most consistent player, but when he’s at full speed, both figuratively and literally, he tends to play at a better pace than most. If he doesn’t end up becoming a big-time scorer in the ‘Q,’ at least he should turn into a dominant faceoff man. [The Hockey News]
#11 Zachary Bolduc by far the best player on the ice today. Looking like a man playing vs kids. pic.twitter.com/dkABHU4GxK— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) July 25, 2019
All statistics from Elite Prospects and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.