With the Vancouver Canucks slated to pick 10th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft on Friday, they’ll have plenty of high-quality prospects to choose from.
In what is considered to be one of the most wide-open drafts in recent memory after the top two picks, there’s no telling who will still be on the board when GM Jim Benning and company take to the podium.
One player who the Canucks should have serious interest in if he’s available – especially considering their lack of depth on the wing – is American power forward Matthew Boldy.
Boldy is ranked as high as fifth (Craig Button’s list) and as low as 15th (Russ Cohen of Sportsology), but most lists have him in the 8-12 range, so there’s legitimate reason to believe he could be there when the Canucks pick at 10th overall.
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A big-bodied left-shot winger who excels in every way offensively, Boldy had an excellent season playing for USA’s U-18 National Team. That team is considered by many to be the best in the program’s history, and Boldy is one of the reasons why.
The 6-foot-2, 192-pound winger shined in both levels of competition with the program, but he actually put up better point totals when facing the tougher competition in the USHL. There, Boldy was second on the team to only Jack Hughes with 43 points in 28 games.
The 18-year-old is the complete package offensively; he does everything at a high level. His skating is smooth and he has the puck skills to match. He has a very quick and accurate shot but he isn’t overly reliant on it, also showing off incredible vision and playmaking ability.
Boldy also already has NHL size and he uses it extremely effectively to protect the puck along the boards against opposing players.
That combination of offensive skills make Boldy extremely adaptable, and he can be a handful for defenders because he can beat them in multiple ways. That unpredictability allows him to stay a step ahead of his opponents.
Top line potential
Boldy projects as a top-six winger with first line potential, and it’s easy to get excited thinking about him playing alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
One specific element of Boldy’s game that would mesh well with Pettersson and Boeser is his ability to keep plays alive deep in the offensive zone.
Boldy’s elite hockey sense, high-end puck skills, and large frame allow him to shield pucks while waiting for his linemates to move into open areas, and his excellent passing ability means he can usually find a way to get them the puck.
Whether setting up a teammate for a shot or just cycling it back down low (as he does in the clip above), Boldy thrives at extending offensive shifts, often creating secondary scoring chances for his team.
With Pettersson and Boeser both having elite shots (and Boldy no slouch himself), it’s easy to see how this trio could develop into one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL.
The winger Horvat needs
While Boldy with Pettersson and Boeser could one day form an incredible line, the American prospect would also be a great fit with Bo Horvat on the second line.
As mentioned earlier, Boldy’s well-rounded offensive game makes him a very adaptable player, and that was supported by his production with different centres with the USNTDP this season.
Boldy spent time with Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras, and Alex Turcotte as his pivot and was consistent in his point totals and impact on the game regardless of his linemates.
That’s a good trait to have, because throughout an 82-game NHL season, lines inevitably get juggled due to injuries and other reasons.
Horvat is in dire need of support from his wingers as well. Last season, Horvat played with a rotating cast of players like Antoine Roussel, Loui Eriksson, Tim Schaller, and Tanner Pearson. No offence to those players (Roussel and Pearson actually played pretty well with Horvat) but Boldy has far more to offer offensively than any of them.
Countless times Horvat would be completely alone behind the net fighting for pucks, with little to no options available to him.
Having Boldy on his line would change that dynamic, since he could both support Horvat in those board battles effectively, or find an open space to receive a pass and get a shot off, depending on the particular situation.
A Massachusetts native, Boldy is committed to Boston College in the NCAA for next season, but could be ready for NHL action as early as 2020-21.
I don’t need to remind Canucks fans what happened the last time the team passed on a highly skilled power forward named Matthew. If Boldy is still available when the Canucks select, they would be wise to scoop him up.