Over the course of the 2019-20 season, I will be taking a look at a variety of prospects eligible to be drafted this June at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. There is no particular ranking to these breakdowns; these prospects come from a variety of tiers. They’re meant to keep you updated on a multitude of potential selections this summer and will complement my forthcoming and extensive coverage of the entry draft.
Below you can find my first two breakdowns, of Kasper Puutio and Martin Chromiak:
Next up is U.S. National Team Development player Thomas Bordeleau.
Thomas Bordeleau - C
U.S. National Team Development Program [USHL] - 18 - Houston, Texas
Bordeleau is such a unique player on and off the ice. Born to former NHL (and Nashville Predators) player Sebastien Bordeleau when the latter was skating for the Houston Aeros in 2002, Thomas Bordeleau spent much of his youth skating in Switzerland while his father played for SC Bern.
While in Montreal going into his teenage years, it was Jack and Quinn Hughes’ family who helped direct Bordeleau to the U.S. National Team Development Program, where he’s been skating for the past two seasons.
In 2018-19, Bordeleau led the U-17 U.S. team in scoring with 39 points in 56 total games as well as recording four assists at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge. This season, Bordeleau has 15 goals and 31 points in 34 total games for the U-18 team. That includes 14 points in 13 USHL games, too; he’s first on Team USA in season scoring but just tenth in team scoring in USHL play - ice time which is often ceded to some U-17 standouts.
The Houston-born forward is committed to play at the University of Michigan next season.
Bordeleau’s Scouting Report
|Quick release for a shot he can adjust on the rush (i.e. wrist, snap, etc.)||Strong with the puck but is sometimes overreliant on feet to advance the puck|
|Elite passer, too, who can distribute with precision from anywhere on the ice||Has the skill to control the pace of play but sometimes likes to slow up with his shot|
|Uses quick cuts and edges to maneuver around defenders & out of tight spaces||Doesn't have an exceptional skating stride but is quick nonetheless|
It can be difficult to stack up this U.S. National Team squad against last year’s; there is no true star like Jack Hughes and supporting cast players aren’t likely to go in the first round. But Bordeleau is the most offensively talented player on that roster and the fluidity of his puck skills is quite impressive.
In the clip below, you may not see electrifying speed but this is a next-level sequence from Bordeleau, #9 in blue. First, although he doesn’t win the draw outright, he forces his opponent to hand over possession through the tie-up. Bordeleau then immediately jumps the zone as the third forward and provides excellent puck support; he makes a quick move that helps the defender commit to a passing lane then dishes a beautiful backhand pass under the latter’s stick to set up a goal.
I noted in the scouting report above how strong Bordeleau can be with the puck. Despite his smaller frame, he can cut through stick obstructions with astonishing ease when he doesn’t have the jump on his stride. He can, however, be overly creative with his feet. Notice below how he looks to kick the puck to his blade prior to a zone entry but instead turns it over.
Almost instantly, though, he executes a perfect lunge and poke check to regain possession and assist on the ensuing goal.
I can’t stress enough how good Bordeleau’s shot is. Pair that with acute awareness in the offensive zone, and he can be a dynamic playmaker. On the power-play shift shown below, I appreciate how he uses the boards to shift play to the other half of the zone and force the penalty killers to move laterally. The shot he cashes in on won’t always work at the next level, but it’s a good display of how forceful his wrist and snap shots are—even from his favorite half-wall spot on the power play.
There’s been viewings where I’ve noticed some defensive mismanagement from Bordeleau. He’s a unique center in that his shooting skill reminds you more of a winger, but his skating stride is powerful enough that he isn’t caught out of position often.
I don’t hate his positioning in the clip below. He circles down into his own zone to orchestrate what will ostensibly be a normal breakout and then adjusts well to the ensuing turnover. I do, however, see the potential for some scouts to knock him for play in his end of the ice.
Ultimately, Bordeleau’s shot is his best weapon; he has deceptive control of his blade, which remains open during his shooting motion and can fool goalies. If his shooting lanes get taken away, or as goalies improve at higher levels, he should still be able to rely on his passing and awareness to succeed in the NCAA and beyond.
Expected Pick Range
Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) over at silversevensens.com has done remarkable work compiling draft rankings and establishing an ‘Expected Pick Range’ from a variety of different sources. You can read about his methodology here, track the compiled rankings here, and use his data viz (embedded below) here.
My rankings were incorporated into this list for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, and I will be using Cudmore’s work again in place of my currently non-existent 2020 NHL Entry Draft rankings.
Bordeleau’s Expected Pick Range: #26 to #47 — 1st or 2nd Round
Bordeleau’s leading a U.S. National Team Development Program squad—one that’s certainly less star-studded than last year’s class—in scoring. Despite his being a smaller skater, I think his talented puck-handling skills and potential to be a dynamic play-maker propel him into the early part of the second round, if not sooner.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.