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NHL Mock Draft 2021: Vegas Golden Knights select Zachary Bolduc with No. 22 pick

Vegas moves up seven spots, and clears some cap space, to take the center from Rimouski.

Rimouski Oceanic v Quebec Remparts Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images

The Golden Knights are wheeling and dealing in our 2021 NHL Mock Draft.

In the current universe, the Golden Knights are slated to draft at No. 30 overall on July 23. In the alternate reality where topsy-turvy reigns and things make no sense, it’s a lot more fun.

With thanks to our friends at Winging It In Motown and Pensburgh, we at Knights On Ice have agreed to the following trade:

To Vegas: Picks No. 22 and No. 52 in the 2021 NHL Draft, goalie Tristan Jarry, RFA rights to Zach Aston-Reese

To Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury ($3.5 million)

To Detroit: Picks No. 30 and No. 36 in the 2021 NHL Draft, Pittsburgh’s 2022 first-round pick, retaining $3.5 million on Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract

With the 23rd pick, the Golden Knights select center Zachary Bolduc from Rimouski of the QMJHL.

About the trade

The parties involved each benefit from this move.

First and foremost, the Golden Knights clear the full $7 million of Fleury’s contract. In return, they get Jarry, who has two years remaining at an AAV of $3.5 million. I know Vegas fans are groaning in the heat, but Jarry becomes a cheaper and capable backup to Robin Lehner. That assures the Golden Knights can re-sign Alec Martinez, while still having some wiggle room if they want to be players in the trade market.

Aston-Reese is a throw-in that maybe benefits Vegas, but his rights could easily be traded.

There was some hesitancy to give up the 36th pick, but with Steve Yzerman being so kind to be the cap broker in this deal, the Detroit Red Wings come away with two top-40 picks, as well as raiding Pittsburgh’s draft cupboard for next year.

And Fleury goes back to Pittsburgh, fresh off a Vezina Trophy and a stretch of the best hockey of his career. One more run with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Why not?

Zachary Bolduc

Position: C

Junior club: Rimouski (QMJHL)

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 175 pounds

Shot: Left

Rankings

NHL Central Scouting: North America Skaters - No. 17

Dobber Prospects: No. 28

Elite Prospects: No. 25

About the player

There’s a lot to like about Zachary Bolduc’s tape.

The first thing that pops out is his two-way ability. He’s steady defensively; couple that with his soft hands through the neutral zone, and you have a solid foundation.

One amateur scout not affiliated with the Golden Knights said Bolduc has the traits Vegas looks for: good size, willingness to get in front of the net, and a sound playmaker behind the net. He also possesses a quick release that aids him in the middle of the slot.

The 18-year-old Bolduc had 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 27 games last season, and posted a 30-goal campaign in 2020. It’s no crime to attest that to playing with Alexis Lafreniere, but to do that at 16 years old, going on 17, that’s not shabby.

While the scout did say it wouldn’t be a shock to see Vegas go with Bolduc, he might be someone the Golden Knights overcook before they think he’s ready. Two components need to be improved on: his consistency and simmer down on the flashy plays.

“He tries to do too much,” the scout said. “That’s fair; he’s not a finished product by any means. But if he can find that healthy balance of knowing what play is the right one, and using those skills to the test, he’s a sleeper in this draft. If Vegas likes him, he could very well be at 30, but I wouldn’t be shocked if a team in the 20s made the move. The potential is oozing.”

What are your thoughts? Who would you take in this spot? And what do you think of the trade?