St. Louis Blues: When Will Zachary Bolduc Make The Team?

St. Louis Blues select Zachary Bolduc(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
St. Louis Blues select Zachary Bolduc(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Just about a year ago, with the St. Louis Blues gearing up for their season, we asked the question of when Zachary Bolduc might make the NHL. While his timeline has not changed immensely, he has made himself known.

Like many before him, Bolduc wishes to waste little to no time before turning pro. Unfortunately, he has factors out of his control going against him.

First and foremost against him is his age. Being 19 is not a bad thing and most of us wish we could go back to that age.

However, it’s not the best age to be for a hockey player drafted out of any of the Canadian hockey leagues, which Bolduc was. If the rules remain clear, Bolduc will end up back with his junior team for 2022-23.

I would not be surprised to see Bolduc get a handful of games at the NHL level to start this season. But, if he is not eligible to be sent to the AHL, which should be the case, then those will be all we will see him with the Blues for now.

It’s an odd rule, but an understandable one. Basically, the CHL made a deal with the NHL that any draftee from their leagues had to stay in juniors or play in the NHL prior to turning 20. That kept higher profile players in the CHL longer, thus garnering more fan support for their teams and prevented NHL teams from just shelving those players in the minors to develop.

We saw it with Jake Neighbours in 2021-22. We’ve seen it in the past with guys like Alex Pietrangelo too.

On the plus side, it forces teams to be more sure that a player is NHL ready before committing to them. On the negative side, it keeps talented young men from playing pivotal roles in the case of injury to other players on the NHL team.

Another factor going against Bolduc for the 2022-23 season is his position. Bolduc is a center and looks like he’ll translate to that as a pro.

Of course, things can change. Someone as talented as Brayden Schenn has been moved back and forth between the middle and the wing and even Robert Thomas got early playing time by seeing the game from the outside.

Regardless, the depth at center for the Blues right now prevents him from even thinking about getting an NHL spot right this moment. It’s hard to break through when you have two top-line centers in Ryan O’Reilly and Thomas.

Schenn could be a top-line center for many teams in the league. Ivan Barbashev, Logan Brown and Noel Acciari can, and often do, all play in the middle.

Even Jordan Kyrou or Nathan Walker can play center in a pinch. Even as a potential winger, there just doesn’t seem to be room for Bolduc just yet.

However, don’t think it will be too much longer either. The Blues have money to spend next season, but they also have important free agents on their own team.

Doug Armstrong has shown a willingness to let players walk if he thinks a prospect is ready. Bolduc will have to utilize another junior season to show that.

He’s already had a good start under the Blues banner. Bolduc netted a hattrick at the team’s prospect camp. He also put in 55 goals and 99 points in 65 games for his Quebec junior team after being drafted by the Blues.

The team is aware that he’s determined too.

“Bolduc probably doesn’t want to go back to juniors, so he probably wants to push so he can have a great camp, to get [an NHL] game, to turn it into nine and hope it turns into 10,” St. Louis general manager Doug Armstrong said, as reported by Lou Korac. “There’s going to be internal competition, but there are guys that we would like to talk to bringing in on lower-level contracts to give us some flexibility and some depth and fight.”

I think Bolduc is still a year away. Given the depth up the middle and the team’s typical route of using up every year of junior eligibility, Bolduc would have to be an absolute superstar during training camp to steal a spot.

dark. Next. Thomas Greiss will be fine, in the right amount of games

He’s going to see a few NHL games this year though, unless he has an equally bad camp when compared to how good he’d have to be to make it.

The future is bright for this guy. You might put him in pencil for 2023-24.