The New York Islanders have called up a handful of prospects this season, with five players making their NHL debut. The newest call-up was 22-year-old defenseman Samuel Bolduc, a second-round draft pick from 2019, as Noah Dobson was battling an injury.
After eight goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Bridgeport Islanders, general manager Lou Lamoriello recalled the Islanders’ top backend prospect, and Samuel Bolduc has taken advantage of his minutes.
In his NHL debut on Monday, Bolduc logged 14:28 minutes with one shot, three hits, and a block in the 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The six-foot-four, 220-pound defenseman let his presence be known as he stepped up at his blue line, forcing Leafs to the outside. He tied up bodies in the corner, protected the front of his net, and was not on the ice for any of the five goals against.
Despite being credited with one shot, he had three total attempts as he let the puck go toward the goal at every opportunity.
Following the game, Islanders head coach Lane Lambert had this to say.
“He looked poised, which we feel that he is, and he’s a big guy,” Lambert said. “I liked the way he played.”
On Wednesday morning, ahead of the Islanders’ game against the Ottawa Senators, Lambert was asked again what stood out from the youngster in his debut.
“I thought when he had the puck on his stick, and he made the right decisions with it,” Lambert said.
With Dobson unable to go against Ottawa, Bolduc remained in the lineup. Albeit another loss, a 2-1 defeat, Bolduc played 18:07 minutes of strong hockey.
He notched two shots on three attempts, with two hits, and has yet to turn the puck over at the NHL level. He also had the opportunity to play on the power play, logging 2.59 minutes as the point man on the first power-play unit, where he recorded his shot on goal.
Lambert was asked what he thought of Bolduc’s power-play performance, despite not getting a result.
“I thought he was poised, get’s puck through,” Lambert said. “He moves the puck quick. I thought he was good.”
Through two NHL games, Bolduc has three shots in 38:32 minutes, with five hits, and a block.
Like an infomercial, “but wait, there’s more!”
Over these two games, Bolduc is one of five Islanders not to be on the ice for a goal against, with the Islanders giving up seven.
As for five-on-five advanced statistics courtesy of NaturalStatrick.com, when Boludc has been on the ice, he leads the backend with a 55.7 percent Corsi For and a 1.83 Expected Goals Against. He’s been on the ice for the fewest scoring chances and high-danger chances against, 16 and 10, respectively.
Bolduc has played both games alongside defenseman Sebastian Aho, and the two have faired quite well.
The pair has played 25:26 minutes per NaturalStatrick.com, and when on the ice, the Islanders have out-attempted their opponents 34-27, outshooting them 18-11.
The Islanders own a 2.49 Expected Goals For and just a 1.79 Expected Goals Against when those two have been on the ice, with no goals entering the back of the net.
Aho has done his part, but Bolduc has really stood out for the right reasons.
He has his head up the ice each shift and has the confidence and ability to make quick passes in transition.
Even jf pinned against the boards, he’s taking peeks up the ice, planning his next step. And along the board, he’s using his body.
It may have taken Samuel Bolduc three years to develop, but he is quickly showcasing that he has the skills to be an NHL player and could very well be another young player that has a spot on the backend for years to come.