Samuel Bolduc possesses an NHL-sized body at 6-4, 220 pounds. Learning how to effectively use that big frame is the highly regarded prospect’s next step as he battles to secure a full-time role with the Islanders.
The 22-year-old figures to get a long look in training camp to beat out incumbent Sebastian Aho for the sixth defenseman’s spot after playing his first 17 NHL games — plus two in the playoffs — last season.
“There’s always an adjustment moving up,” said 6-3, 210-pound top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech on Friday after the second day of Islanders camp at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. “I dealt with it myself moving up from junior hockey to pro hockey, where you go from being bigger and stronger than everybody, and faster in his case, to being on the same level as a lot of these guys.
“You have to be more efficient in your use of space or the ways you defend. He’s a guy who definitely has all the tools. The sky’s the limit for him. He’ll just keep getting better. It’s standard development, especially for a young defenseman.”
Bolduc, a second-round pick in 2019 entering his fourth season of pro hockey, spent the offseason at home near Montreal working out with Blues defenseman Marco Scandella, who is 6-3, 212 pounds.
“We just went on the ice four, five times a week and every day in the gym with him,” Bolduc said. “I just learned a lot of what it takes to play in this league for a long time.”
Bolduc’s goal is to use his size more effectively in defending while also getting up ice into the attack and, possibly, earning a role for his big blue-line shot on the power play.
“I still need to learn a little bit more how to use more of my body on the ice,” he said. “Once I get that, I think I’m going to be pretty hard to play against defensively. And nowadays most of the defensemen in the league are jumping into the play on the offensive side, so I’m going to have to take part in it too.”
The left-shooting Bolduc had two goals and an assist last season and played in the first two games of the Islanders’ six-game, first-round loss to the Hurricanes while paired with Noah Dobson. He logged a total of just 13:59 in the two games before Alexander Romanov returned to the lineup from a shoulder injury.
But any experience is good experience.
“It gives me a taste of what this thing is about and how I need to work,” Bolduc said. “I still have to prove myself that I can play every day in this league.”
Notes & quotes: Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (illness) did not practice. Coach Lane Lambert said he is day-to-day . . . Right wing Kyle Palmieri (maintenance), who has been skating on his own, missed his second day of practice. Lambert said there was no update on when he might be able to skate with his teammates.