TORONTO — With the 57th pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders selected right-handed defenseman Samuel Bolduc, out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Laval native played one final season in juniors, 2019-20, before joining the Bridgeport Islanders to start his development with the organization.
There were high hopes for Samuel Bolduc, as he was a strong two-way player, with size standing at six-foot-four and weighing 220 pounds. But injuries and COVID-19 stunted his development to the point when people questioned if he could really turn into the player the Islanders hoped he would be.
Well, three years later, now a 22-year-old, Bolduc has played to his potential.
After eight goals and 18 assists in 40 games, being chosen as Bridgeport’s AHL All-Star, he is up with the Islanders and could make his NHL debut Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“As a young kid, you dream of being in the NHL,” Bolduc said. “And right now…just being in the locker room with all the guys., I mean, it’s pretty amazing.”
For Bolduc, he found out Sunday morning that he would be heading to Toronto and that he best pack quickly because he had a 2 PM plane to catch.
“I was eating my breakfast, and yeah, just start packing,” Bolduc said.” Luckily there was no traffic.”
As mentioned, it wasn’t smooth sailing for Bolduc during his first two seasons as a pro, but something clicked this season, and NYI Hockey Now asked what had changed.
“It helps to be able to [play] right away,” Bolduc said. “But I just think confidence, just after three years, confidence goes up.”
The Bridgeport Islanders were on fire to start the 2022-23 season before call-ups and injuries of their own derailed a promising season. Bolduc shared that the atmosphere in Bridgeport played a critical part in his success.
“I think we have a decent group of guys, a decent group of players back in Bridgeport, so that helps a lot,” Bolduc said. “And we have a lot of fun together, so it’s fun to go to the rink.”
For the fans who haven’t had the chance to see Bolduc play, as he missed most of training camp and all of preseason, he gave a quick analysis of his game.
“I would say I’m a two-way player,” Bolduc said. “I have a great shot. I feel like my passing abilities are pretty good. Good skater too. And I’m not scared to use my body as an advantage too.”
Bolduc with number ✌️ pic.twitter.com/hLpabKg26f
— Bridgeport Islanders (@AHLIslanders) January 22, 2023
Islanders head coach Lane Lambert had this to say about his newest call-up:
“He’s played very well. Obviously, he’s an all-star in the American Hockey League. So we’ll see what happens again with a couple of guys banged up.”
As for what’s led to his strong play in Bridgeport, Lambert said health has been the biggest thing.
Lambert would not divulge lineup decisions, but there are a few players banged up. So we will find out during warmups if Bolduc gets in.