Matthew Boldy was moved around in the U.S. National U18 Team lineup this season, and that helped him develop versatility. He was used on the penalty kill, on the power play, and slotted on the wing of the first to the third line. He filled different roles along with different teammates, and still produced his share of offence. His adaptability, combined with a high skill level, will make him a very attractive prospect for many organizations.
Birthplace: Millis, Massachusetts, USA
Date of birth: April 5, 2001
Weight: 192 lbs.
Team: U.S. National U18 Team
The winger recorded 81 points in 64 games for the U.S. team this season. He wasn’t breaking records like his teammates, but the numbers remain impressive considering the circumstances of his usage. He also stood out at the World Under-18 Championship with 12 points in seven games.
At the U18s, he showed his desire to play on both sides of the puck. He isn’t a solid defensive forward in all circumstances just yet (his mind reminds inclined towards the attack) but Boldy generally positions himself well and makes good use of his stick to deny opposing passing lanes. He can also be threatening on the backcheck as he gets his stick underneath an opponent’s to lift it, take possession, and head toward the net with a quick turn.
This is where he is the most dangerous. Though he lacks the top speed that would allow him to fly past defenders, his hands are some of the best in the draft. He has an incredibly soft touch on the puck and makes accurate and purposeful movements in possession. What makes his handling skills even more dangerous is that he has a creative understanding of how to bait defenders to create space for himself, especially inside the dots.
Boldy always looks to cut to the slot. He is often found attacking through the wide lane or from the boards in the offensive zone, but he doesn’t stay there, unlike many other creative forwards who play on the perimeter. With a slick move or two, he forces opponents to commit to a pokecheck or to turn their skates to get around them and into the middle. He doesn’t need to force defenders way out of position to attack the centre of the ice; only a slight stick extension from the opposition or bad angle is often enough for him to make them look completely foolish.
He isn’t always successful in his great stickhandling enterprises. He can be guilty of forcing plays, especially his passes, but his handling skills are so superior to his counterparts’ — and will remain so even as he advances in levels — that he continues to create highlight-reel plays at a high rate.
Take a look at some of the sequences below that illustrates Boldy’s skill with the puck.
The first clip is a simple one-touch on the puck, as Boldy redirected a bad pass from a teammate to another one to his right, but he does so masterfully, applying just the right force and angle on the redirection, which was also a display of his vision. Then, the video continues with a few much more ridiculous sequences with him spinning on himself and going through multiple sticks and skates in rapid succession, chaining drags and pulls into his own skates into further backhand-forehand exchanges, leaving confused defenders in his wake.
A lot of time could be spent breaking each individual sequence, as there is so much going on, but the displays speak highly enough of his skill already.
Boldy has effective edges to go along with his hands. He doesn’t really explode out of his skating moves, but he can open up heel-to-heel to protect the puck, and, as defenders get close to him, switch to his outside edge and push away from checks, using his stature and reach to prevent defenders from going around him for a pokecheck in the process.
The winger’s skating has improved in the last couple of years and should in all likelihood continue to get better. Right now, his hands and edges make him quite elusive, but adding more speed and an explosive element to his moves would open more possibilities for him and make him even more dangerous.
The last offensive tool is his shot. He has a hard wrist shot that he can let fly off the rush, and he can also score from one-timers. But even if his 30 goals this season for the U.S. Development Program would make him seem like a goal-scorer, he often looks for passing targets around the net first and foremost. He is content going through a defender and quickly releasing the puck on net for teammates to pounce on the rebound instead of really trying to pick his spot to beat the goalie. He can fill both a goal-scoring and playmaking position on a line, but there are indications that he prefers to be the setup man.
He is patient in possession, looks for passing lanes to the slot, and, just like in his puck-handling, can creatively get around opposing sticks to feed the puck to teammates inside the defensive box, making good use of lob passes.
Boldy’s analytics profile is very flattering, not unlike many of his USNTDP counterparts. He generates offence at a high level, it being spread between playmaking and shooting, and he even comes out looking like a solid enough two-way player. The part that seems the most lacklustre in his game is related to transition plays, which could be a product of his tendency to slow down the game a bit as he goes from zone to zone to find passing lanes and challenge defenders one-on-one.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Dobber Prospects: #8
Elite Prospects: #10
Future Considerations: #7
Hockey Prospect: #9
ISS Hockey: #8
McKeen’s Hockey: #11
NHL Central Scouting: #9 (NA skaters)
In June, it’s probable that he goes early to a team looking for more offence from their wings. The Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks are likely destinations. Even if he slips past those two teams, and outside of the top-10, it would be surprising to see Boldy fall much further due to his complete game and high skill level.