The Islanders parted ways with defenseman Nick Leddy this offseason as a means to clear cap space. Leddy has been one of the most significant contributors to the Islanders defense ever since he was acquired by the team in 2014. Finding a suitable replacement for Leddy’s production will be very important. While the Islanders could go the free agency route with some of the cap they’ve cleared, there could already be an in-house replacement. Twenty-year-old defenseman prospect Samuel Boludc is quickly turning heads within the organization. He could be a leading contender to take Leddy’s spot on the roster this coming season.
The Background on Bolduc
Bolduc was selected by the Islanders with the 26nd pick in the second round of the 2019 NHL draft. He has great measurements for a defenseman, with a height of 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 213 lbs. He’s a left handed shot noted for having a strong two way game. He slightly resembles Ryan Pulock in that he has a good slap shot and likes to use it often. Although he prefers to use his slap shot more often, he also has a really good wrist shot as well. Other notable skills of his is his skating and ability to take care of the puck. One of the flaws scouts see in his game is that he is not as physical as he should be for a player his size. He also has some problems with overall consistency, especially in passing, that have to be worked on.
Replacing Leddy’s Offense
One of the things the Islanders will miss most about Leddy is his offensive contributions. He was the highest scoring defenseman on the team in five of his seven seasons spent with the Islanders. Leddy was also a regular contributor on the power play, leaving a hole there that needs to be replaced. This is where Bolduc’s fit becomes more apparent since, like Leddy, Bolduc plays a very sound offensive game. He routinely scored double digit points in the QMJHL, scoring a career best 37 points in 2018-19.
This success on offense carried over to the AHL as Bolduc was second on Bridgeport in points and was an all star. What’s exceptional about this is that it was his rookie season in the AHL. A rookie defenseman being one of the offensive leaders of a team is an impressive feat. What’s even more promising is his role on the power play with both teams. Both coaches trusted him with regular power play minutes, showing his reliability in that department. All in all, the Islanders can definitely trust Bolduc to be a suitable replacement for Leddy’s offensive role. He may not be able to immediately replicate Leddy’s numbers, but the potential is clearly there.
High Praise From Coaches
Some may remember that Bolduc nearly made the team last season; with Leddy still on it. Bolduc got Barry Trotz’s attention in last season’s camp, with Trotz saying that he was good enough to play with the main group. Although it didn’t come to fruition in the regular season, getting that level of praise from a coach of Trotz’s caliber is significant. But Trotz isn’t the only coach to have a high level of praise for Bolduc’s game. Michael Anderson of Fansided did an interview with Bolduc’s QMJHL coach Bruce Richardson, who had great things to say. The most notable quote from Richardson is when he compared Bolduc’s game to that of Victor Hedman. He said this in regards to Bolduc’s style of play as a two way defenseman in the league. Being that Hedman is a former Norris Trophy winner, this kind of player comparison is really high praise. It is encouraging to see Bolduc’s former coaches speak so highly of his ability as a player.
Bolduc seems like the strongest possibility to replace Leddy on the roster this season. The Islanders will be using most of their new found cap space improving the forward group. This will leave limited time and cap space to be used seeking free agent replacements. Although replacing a veteran with a rookie is risky, the Islanders seem to be secure with that risk. Trotz’s praise of Bolduc last season shows that he believes in his ability to contribute to the team right now. Although he was noted to struggle with physicality, he should improve under the tutelage of Trotz who excels at coaching a physical defensive game. Plus Bolduc’s two way game and power play work is a perfect substitute for Leddy, who had a similar role. Overall, Bolduc presents an affordable, high potential option to fill the open spot on the Islanders defenseman group.
Featured image courtesy of the AHL
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