Joey Kenward: Back to make it count
After being re-assigned to the Manitoba Moose, Alex Bolduc played a significant role for the team and he's trying to make the most of his callup with the Canucks during the post-season.
When the Canucks departed for San Jose Thursday afternoon, there was a familiar face on the plane.
Whether he makes it to the ice or not against the Sharks in the Western Conference Finals, only time will tell.
Forward Alexandre Bolduc was one of a handful of Canucks prospects recalled to the club earlier this month after capping off their regular season and playoff campaigns with the Manitoba Moose.
Those players have been skating together in Vancouver and gotten the opportunity to see what life is like in a Stanley Cup playoff run. In Bolduc’s case, he may find himself in game action before all is said and done.
“The last couple of days practicing with the team, I’m starting to feel like I’m a part of things,” said the 25 year-old from Montreal, Quebec prior to leaving with the Canucks for California. “If I get in [the line-up] or not, either way it’s exciting. I’m pumped to be here.”
Bolduc’s journey just to get to this point has been a bit of a whirlwind the last number of years. Originally a fourth round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in 2003, the 6’1”, 198 lbs. centre was an offensive-minded prospect coming out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Five years later, the Canucks signed Bolduc as a free agent after a solid season in the AHL with the Moose, one that saw him score 18 goals, chip in 19 assists, and amass 93 PIM. The following year featured a couple of call-ups from the AHL to the Canucks, but the majority of his time was spent in Winnipeg.
“Like a lot of young guys, it’s just a question of consistency with Alex,” says Canucks Director of Player Development Dave Gagner. “As he gets older, he’s learning more and more how to get that game going every night.”
At the beginning of this season, Bolduc started on Vancouver’s opening night roster, but an ankle injury against the Los Angeles Kings that game put him on the sidelines for a few months.
Since getting back to 100% health, Bolduc seems to have found his confidence after good experiences in Winnipeg as well as when he’s been called up to Vancouver.
“Things started off well by making the team, and then I had a little bit of bad luck with an injury,” comments Bolduc. “All in all, my time in Manitoba went well, playoffs went well, and even the time I spent here went pretty well. I’m looking at it as a positive season for sure and hopefully it just gets even better.”
In 24 games with the Canucks, Bolduc posted a pair of goals and a pair of assists. In 26 games with the Moose, he netted six goals and nine helpers. He also contributed offensively in Manitoba’s 14 game playoff run, scoring four times.
“When he plays here, he’s primarily used in a fourth line role, but in Manitoba he got to play in all situations,” says Gagner. “This was good for his overall development in Manitoba because he was gaining confidence in his game.”
“He has that ability to add anything to your team,” adds Gagner. “He can score and make plays. He can play that toughness role and finish his checks. He’s capable of playing the fourth line role here because he can skate and he adds that element of size to our attack.”
Bolduc knows the coaches and management have the final call as to whether or not he draws into the line-up this series. No matter what happens, he’s excited to be a part of things with the Canucks, knowing so much is at stake in the days ahead.
“It’s business for sure. These guys are just the ultimate professionals,” says Bolduc when asked of the mood of the team holding a 2-0 series lead againts their Bay Area rivals. “These guys don’t mess around. They come to work every day, whether it’s an off day or not. It’s pretty impressive to see and it’s definitely a good learning experience.”