Notebook: Bolduc, Chibrikov, Guenther & More
Every season, FCHockey’s scouts are scouring the globe to get eyes on prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft and beyond.
They spend countless hours watching both live games and game tape to get the best possible analysis on the prospects entering the NHL Draft. Our Unpacking the Scouting Notebook series takes a look at some of the reports that FCHockey’s scouts have filed over the past week.
From the QMJHL’s Zach Bolduc to the U20 Elit’s Noah Meier, here’s a glimpse at our scout’s analysis from the past week.
Zach Bolduc, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Rimouski 2 – Chicoutimi 3 – October 10, 2020
Scouting report by Dylan Galloway
Zach Bolduc is a solid two-way centreman who is being trusted in all situations by his coach and you can see why. Bolduc is effective at both ends of the ice, whether that’s winning defensive zone faceoffs, or driving the net for good high danger chances. Bolduc’s skating is fine. He gets up and down the ice with solid speed but isn’t going to blow opponents out of the water with straightaway speed. He seems to struggle a bit more even when skating with the puck through transition. Once in the offensive zone, Bolduc seems to flip a bit of switch and looks much more comfortable on his feet. He keeps his feet moving and circles the zone in small circles, constantly looking for open ice and better positioning. When he reads that the play is moving towards the net he’s excellent at turning and targeting the slot, driving towards the net with a good stick on the ice. At the same time, Bolduc needs to increase his strength on his feet as I felt he got outbattled on a few opportunities. He understands this though and rarely tries to outmuscle opponents and instead opts for moving out of coverage, rolling out and then diving back towards the open ice. His smarts shine through in this manner, understanding where he’s most capable, being patient, and reading the play extremely well to ensure he arrives at the slot when the play does. I also like how he utilizes his shooting and passing at different times at 5v5 and on the PP. On the man advantage, he plays the point and has a nice hard shot that he threads through traffic with regularity. He creates opportunities through his shot, though it doesn’t have enough strength yet to really be a major threat from a distance. That being said, he smartly uses screens and opponents’ body positions to hide his shot a bit and create some deception for the goalie. Bolduc’s defensive game is fine as well. He definitely has some work to do in the zone as he doesn’t have the strength to win battles with larger players, but his positioning is fairly solid. Bolduc does a good job of getting up and down the ice though and understands his defensive positioning fairly well as he covers up for teammates when they slide out of position or attack a loose puck. I think Bolduc could see his draft stock rise through the season as he’s got a toolset that I think could project well to the next level as a two-way forward.
Tyler Boucher, F, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
USA U-18 5 – Austin 0 – October 5, 2020
Scouting Report by Brandon Holmes
Tyler Boucher had an excellent showing for the NTDP in their preseason matchup with the Austin Bruins, as he was a consistent offensive threat all game. Lining up on the right wing most often with Jeremy Wilmer and Jack Hughes, Boucher recorded 1 goal and 1 assist in an impressive offensive performance, as he was constantly creating space in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick. Offensively, Boucher often flashed high-end puck skills while in the offensive zone and while carrying the puck on the rush. Oftentimes, Boucher was unafraid to challenge opposing defenders one-on-one with his hands and puck handling ability, constantly prodding the oppositions for holes to attack and having the skill to dart into open space with flashy dekes. Boucher often demonstrated good speed and agility with strong technique on his skating stride and showed himself capable of creating offense on the rush with speed down the boards, though Boucher often relied more on his hands to open space rather than his speed. Boucher had a strong showing in this game as a creator, as he supported pucks well and fed pucks to high-danger areas on the ice more often than not. Boucher’s ability to filter pucks to high-danger areas on the ice led to both points he secured in this game, as he was able to play between the dots effectively to both set up opportunities and finish one off himself. Boucher’s two-way game was somewhat inconsistent, as his defensive zone positioning at times was spotty and there were a few occasions where Boucher showed a slight degree of laziness on backchecks, which is an area of his defensive game that will need to be ironed out. Overall, Boucher was among the NTDP’s top offensive weapons in this showcase and will be an intriguing forward to watch for the Americans during his draft season.
Nikita Chibrikov, RW, SKA St. Petersburg (MHL)
SKA 1946 2 – Dynamo St. Petersburg 5 – September 5, 2020
Scouting Report by Josh Bell
Nikita Chibrikov has the potential to become a very dangerous player. Even in the first game of the season, the Russian showed off some very high-end skill. I started the game not very impressed, but he definitely got better and better as the game went on. He’s patient with the puck, drawing in defenders to create space behind them. He showed off excellent speed in this game and edges to match that he uses to manipulate defenders. He has a very quick first few steps with power that allow him to accelerate quickly. His small-area game is very good, through puckhandling and then having the ability to find a teammate through traffic. I came away impressed with the number of short, subtle passes that he utilized to drive play forward. Moving forward, I would like to see him challenge puck carriers more. He sometimes stops before reaching the attacker, looking to take away a pass rather than strip the puck or lay a hit. That may be due to his 5-foot-10, 161-pound frame and lack of strength. He was often pushed off the puck and knocked down, on some occasions skating into defenders and bouncing off of them. Even so, he often jumped into board battles, digging the puck free and making a play. This is very much a player to keep an eye on for the first round.
Dylan Guenther, LW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Edmonton 2 – Prince Albert 3 – January 24, 2020
Scouting Report by Brandon Holmes
It was an inconsistent game for Dylan Guenther, as the young forward showed flashes of what makes him a top prospect for the 2021 Draft while also showing areas for improvement. While skating on the right wing for the Oil Kings, Guenther’s most recognizable trait was his speed and mobility, as he possesses an explosive skating stride while moving in transition and was able to move through the neutral zone with plenty of pace. Guenther’s straight-line speed made him most effective on the rush, where he was able to score a goal late in the 3rd period after taking a feed from Jake Neighbours while driving the center lane in the offensive zone. However, despite playing a strong game in transition, Guenther left something to be desired in his offensive zone play. Too often during this game, Guenther was kept to the perimeter of the ice and found difficulty creating space deep in the offensive zone, as his skill game wasn’t quite working for him and in turn led to turnovers for his team. Guenther displayed some good vision and puck distribution skills, but the young forward will need to learn to play the game with more patience at times instead of relying too heavily on his speed and skill to create offensive opportunities. All-in-all, there was plenty of potential to be gleaned from this performance against Prince Albert, but playing with more smarts and consistency will be the key for Guenther in future performances.
Noah Meier, D, Gck Zurich Jr. (U20 Elit)
Langnau Jr. 7 – Gck Zurich Jr. 6 – September 11, 2020
Scouting Report by Dennis Schellenberg
Noah Meier spent the majority of last season playing in the 2nd as well as the highest Swiss league and challenged men in pro leagues. Due to the fact that currently on the U20 league is on, he has been loaned to play junior hockey to start the season. Meier’s a smooth-skating, mobile defenseman. Has solid top speed too. He was able to outspeed opponents at this level and managed to get back in position in time. He was aggressive on the puck carrier using his strong timing playing the puck with the stick. This is one of his biggest assets. Knows when to use the stick to interfere plays and is excellent in poking the puck away. Was able to keep the opponents away from the danger zone and put great pressure on puck carriers with his good gap control. Showed great pass power and was often playing a deadly first open pass. Saw free passing lanes well and played a couple of powerful opening passes from deep of his own zone through the neutral zone initiating counter attacks. Also got an assist in this fashion. He is able to drive the play from his own zone and gives his team valuable options to start attacks from their own zone. Offensively, Meier joined rushes when he saw the opportunity. Read plays well, both when in puck possession and without the puck. Mentally, was always one step ahead of the play. Controlled opposing sticks well in front of his own net. Displayed his hard slap shot a few times during the game. Meier is no physical player and often prefers to use his stick work in order to close the gap rather than physically put pressure on puck carriers. Definitely needs to bulk up in order to compete against stronger opponents, especially along the boards and in front of the net. Meier might not be a very spectacular player nor did he take over control of the game with showing off fancy moves. He rather uses his hockey smarts, game reading abilities and strong position game to play a reliable role in the system.
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