Notebook: Bolduc, Lucius, Morrow & 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 Notebook series takes a look at some of the reports that FCHockey’s scouts have filed over the past week.
Here’s a glimpse at our scout’s analysis.
Zachary Bolduc, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Blainville-Boisbriand 6 – Rimouski 5 – March 10, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Galloway
Zachary Bolduc plays a solid two-way game, both contributing to his teams’ offense while also contributing on the defensive side of the puck. His offensive tools are still raw and fairly clunky. Bolduc doesn’t possess highlight reel puck skills, but he does show an ability to get on pucks quickly and in this game, he was a key contributor to his teams’ transition game. He showed an ability to make a key pass in the neutral zone, or transition the puck zone to zone with control with great speed. His lack of puck skills really does limit his ability in the offensive zone though and prevents him from being able to really creatively create space for himself and get to the dangerous areas. This results in Bolduc taking shots from less than ideal locations. Bolduc’s shot is also just average. He owns a quick release and his mechanics on his one-timer are solid, however, he needs to improve his accuracy as he was missing the net as often as he was hitting it no matter how much pressure he was under. Another issue in his offensive game was his pass completion rate. Bolduc often was just throwing no-look and backhand passes around the offensive zone in hopes the puck would hot a teammate’s stick. He needs to work on knowing when those passing lanes are open and work on hitting those seams with more regularity. Defensively, Bolduc was good at getting back and covering for his defenders, knowing where he was needed positionally, and breaking up plays with his long wingspan. His open ice speed allows him to cover a lot of ice through transition and on the backcheck allowing him to be dangerous on the rush as well as in creating turnovers in the neutral zone. Overall, I thought this was a solid game from Bolduc, but he still looks a bit raw on the offensive side of the puck and needs to work on softening his hands with the puck and improving his decision-making on shots and passes. I think Bolduc could be a two-way contributor in the NHL in the bottom-six.
Jayden Grubbe, C, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Calgary 2 – Red Deer 0 – March 5, 2021
Scouting report by Donesh Mazloum
The newly minted Rebels captain had a solid if unspectacular performance in this game. Jayden Grubbe is a really steady and well-rounded player who is an effective contributor in all three zones. Already possessing NHL size, he uses his frame to bully smaller players along the wall. He plays low in the defensive zone, backchecks hard, and is generally a much more developed defensive presence than most of his peers. In open ice and straight lines, Grubbe possesses a compact and powerful stride and is an intimidating presence at full speed. He could use some improvement in his quickness and balance in tight spaces however his upper body strength masks those weaknesses at this level as he is able to muscle off most opposition players even if he’s in less-than-ideal body positions. His puck control and quick hands are probably his only plus offensive skill and paired with the enhanced ability to protect with his frame, he is a major asset on the cycle. While it’s easy to see Grubbe translating to the pro game, I think there is a limit to his ceiling as well. He lacks the elite skill, pace, or creativity to produce chances consistently. When you look back on his performance in this game it is forgettable in both a positive and negative manner. You can throw him out there without worrying about mistakes being made however he’s not a massive difference maker either. If you’re selecting him in the draft you’re getting at best a faceoff asset, penalty killer, and mistake-free centerman to play ten to fifteen minutes a game and with those expectations, he’s a likely draft pick.
Chaz Lucius, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Chicago 4 – USA U18 5 – March 6, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Krill
From the first shift, you could tell Chaz Lucius was going to have a good game. Supporting teammates, creating space, displaying great skill, all while playing with good intensity. He’s a constant scoring threat, but also has great vision and puck control. Although Lucius doesn’t have the fastest top speed, he is still agile enough to find space efficiently and play with high pace. He has a bit of a long straight-line stride that may be a factor to why he isn’t reaching his full skating potential, but I believe he will improve as he shows good technique and is already elusive, just lacking some speed. On one play specifically, he made a great back-check that resulted in a takeaway. In the offensive zone, you will find Lucius consistently looking for soft spots and creating options for his teammates. Using his strong edges to change direction quickly, making it difficult on defenders trying to cover him. One thing that stood out in this game was his ability to get into the slot and finish while under pressure. Even with opponents making contact with their sticks trying to poke the puck away, Lucius was able to control and find room for his shot, scoring a nice give-and-go goal in the slot. I did notice he had his head down trying to locate the puck at times which he will need to work on. His shot is what makes him a constant threat on the ice. Having the ability to pick corners with his quick wrist shot or accurate one-timer, and having the mindset and confidence that he can beat any goalie. His vision and playmaking ability was on display many times in this game, being able to find teammates while under pressure consistently. He even showed some flash by using a backhand saucer pass and hitting his target accurately through traffic. Overall, Lucius was just fine defensively in this game. He was often in good position to take away space and passing lanes, but there were times where if he gave a slight bit more of an effort it probably would’ve resulted in a turnover. He had good stick placement and read the play well in the defensive zone, but he needs to become more aggressive and try to force turnovers more consistently to become more of a 200ft player and more effective center. With the high-end skill Lucius possesses, there is no doubt he is a first-round talent and I believe teams should consider him in the early-middle of the first round.
Kyle Masters, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Calgary 2 – Red Deer 3 – March 6, 2021
Scouting report by Justin Froese
Kyle Masters has arrived. Though Red Deer is a bit underwhelming as a whole to date, through their first 4 games Masters has been a stud. Not only has he been taxed with huge, all situations minutes right out of the gate, but he’s learning rapidly and applying lessons to each ensuing situation he’s put in. Masters projects as a puck rushing catalyst who uses his elite skating ability and deceptive puck skill to make plays out from under pressure and allow play continuity. He’s dynamic with movement and extremely agile with masterful edge work which allows him to manipulate opposition routes and creating space with a combination of heel-to-heel mohawk maneuvers and linear crossovers. He doesn’t seem to underhandle pucks but can change the angle of flow with quick handles and moving pucks from exposed areas to be hidden on his hip so he can make a quick pass or find a shot lane while making the play through weight shift. Although I thought that some of his plays were rather high risk by putting himself into small seams to escape pressure or by putting pucks into bad ice. Every time he went into pick up a puck he was always scanning and shoulder checking so it may simply be about making more appropriate decisions based on the layers of pressure presented and learning to curb his enthusiasm for high event hockey. His shot is an asset which will require some work, but he is able to get pucks through thanks to his approach to opening up lanes. Defensively there’s a lot of lessons in the details that will have to come. He’s got great closing speed and stick presence on rush sequences but feel he could end plays earlier by skating forward and angling in the neutral zone to force possession changes or dumps. His defensive width and attentiveness to positioning and stick detail will need to be an area of improvement as he can be a bit inconsistent in check attachment and where he is situating himself to block lanes. I love what he does on and off the puck to put himself in positions to drive play forward and that’s taken the biggest jump for me, even though the rest of his game has come along as well. I think we will see quite the climb from this player.
Scott Morrow, D, Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS)
Shattuck 8 – Chicago 1 – February 21, 2021
Scouting report by Josh Bell
Scott Morrow is going to be a very interesting name to watch on draft day. He’s a bit of a mixed bag and when looking at what his transferrable traits are, there are some aspects to be excited about and there are just as many aspects to worry about. Starting with the positives, Morrow’s footwork is exceptional. He might be one of the best skaters in the class, at least amongst defensemen. It all stems from his posture, strong ankle flex, good knee bend, lets his shoulders roll, but keeps his chest and head up. He can explode in all four directions. He also utilizes crossovers very often, constantly changing direction up the ice as he leads breakouts and entries. If he doesn’t use his feet, he can look up the ice and spot his teammates through traffic, often shooting long bombs from his zone to the opponent’s blue line to spring his man. His puckhandling is also very high-end, as he has the ability to skating into and out of traffic, more often than not coming out with the puck. This combination of feet, eyes, and hands makes a very promising offensive forward. Morrow also brings a calmness to his game, drawing attackers in before making a play. He can combine all of these aspects at times, although this also transitions into the less-than-positive traits. I found that when he gets too focused on getting through/past traffic, he puts blinders on and gets so focused on himself. He doesn’t notice the wide-open teammates he has and then ends up not using his teammates and often running out of space, leading to a turnover. Where Morrow really showed some concern is in his defensive game. There’s a lack of both urgency and awareness in his own end, resulting in missed assignments, missed pucks, and numerous turnovers. Much of this can be associated to a lack of scanning the zone. He tends to get too focused on the puck or what is in front of him and loses where the opponents are. He can also make some poor decisions, committing on a 2-on-1 or trying to force a pass through traffic in front of his own net. When defending the rush, he also tends to skate right at his attackers. While this may work for him at this level, it’s not something that will translate. He needs to learn to angle out, taking away the attackers space and forcing them to the boards rather than skating right at them. He also maintains his gap and speed when skating backwards through crossovers rather than cuts. Again, at the next level, this will see him get burned often, as forwards look to make defenders cross their feet to gain a step. Moving to the next level, there’s a great deal of work for Morrow to do in his defensive game. In this game, Morrow also took two penalties. The second one was a retaliation cross-check for a player that made a clean hit on Morrow. This was near the end of the game, a game that was a blowout. Moving forward, seeing Morrow play a cleaner game, or simply staying more level-headed will be important. Morrow looks to be a high-risk, high-reward player, but if his game with the puck is a sign of what’s to come, he could be worth the risk.
Samu Salminen, LW, Jokerit U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
KalPa U20 4 – Jokerit U20 3 – November 22, 2020
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
I’m a little at a loss trying to understand how Samu Salminen has such good scoring totals on the season, because watching this game he looked like someone who just started playing hockey. He was very awkward and uncoordinated and really struggled overall to leave much of an impact. Has long skating strides, but his edgework is soft and lacks balance, getting knocked off of his feet far too easily. Nothing impressive about his footwork or top gear. Gets pushed around surprisingly easily for such a big player. His physical reactions to the play are slow, and he gets caught hopelessly lunging at pucks too often. Got whistled for two penalties in this contest after getting burned by the pace of play. There were a couple instances in this match where he flashed dangerous puck skills and made nice passes, but there were also some notable turnovers trying to transport the puck and enter the offensive zone with it. While his shot looks alright, he picks some very questionable times to use it. Doesn’t seem to read his surroundings particularly well in any zone and is rarely a step ahead of the play. Didn’t show me anything defensively in this one, though he didn’t get exposed either, he was just kind of a non-factor. Plays center at this level, but would need a dramatic amount of progress in multiple areas to be able to stay a center at higher levels. His scoring totals might plummet once he faces more good competition that’s his size. All that being said, he does look like a kid who is adjusting to a growth spurt and still growing into his body, so some of those issues with coordination and balance could come in time. Salminen seems far too risky to draft high, and if any team does draft him high they must be incredibly confident in their ability to develop him up over a long period of time.
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