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The runt of the litter exacts revenge: Boldy making statement with development

Matthew Boldy was the small, overlooked guy on a stacked NTDP squad. But he bloomed late and got the last laugh.

As far as origin stories go, Matthew Boldy has a pretty good one. Lost amidst a sea of bigger names like Jack Hughes and Trevor Zegras, Boldy nearly didn’t make the final 40-man tryout roster for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in 2017. But enough staffers believed in giving the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Massachusetts kid a chance.

Boldy blossomed on the ice – and also grew four inches, while putting on 25 pounds – to become one of the team’s deadliest forwards. After two seasons with the NTDP, he was drafted 12th overall in 2019 by the Minnesota Wild. “I knew how other people were thinking about me when I came in, but I had confidence in myself,” Boldy said. “I proved a lot of people wrong and, going into my under-17 year, I opened some eyes. Following my under-18 year, I proved I could play at that level and be an elite player.”

A Boston College commit who grew up watching Eagles such as Johnny Gaudreau and Kevin Hayes, Boldy dreamt of playing for Hall of Fame coach Jerry York and, this fall, Boldy will get that opportunity. He’ll also get to play in the four-team Beanpot tournament that all of Boston’s NCAA scene lives for, with his former NTDP mates on both sides: goalie Spencer Knight joins him at BC, while Zegras, among others will suit up for the rival Boston U. Terriers. “It was a big attraction, being able to play in the Beanpot,” Boldy said. “I grew up going to those games. And being able to play some of my best friends, guys I basically lived with for the past two years, is going to be pretty special.”

As for the Wild, they’re incredibly excited about the big winger’s potential. “He’s competitive, he’s strong, and he’s got a great sense for the game offensively,” said Brad Bombardir, director of player development. “He’s got a good feel for pucks along the wall and creating space for himself or lanes to make plays.”

While Boldy will need a few years in college before he’s ready for the pro game, the youngster can use that forgiving NCAA schedule to build his strength in the gym. “Going to college will be a great opportunity to get stronger and get more leg strength underneath him to improve his skating,” Bombardir said. “Staying low and powerful will help him on that inside ice and on cycles.”

As for growing off the ice, it sounds as though Boldy is already ahead of the curve. “He’s a very impressive young man,” Bombardir said. “Character for us is huge.”

TRAVERSE CITY TRAVERSING

The Minnesota Wild were once again one of eight NHL teams to participate in the Traverse City prospects tournament in Michigan this September, and it did not go well. The Wild kids were the only squad to go winless, and the eighth-place game against Chicago wasn’t even close. But there were some extenuating circumstances. To begin with, top center Alexander Khovanov missed the tourney after having surgery to remove a tumor on his leg. Defenseman Filip Johansson stayed back in Sweden, where the season starts earlier. And Matthew Boldy and new Boston College bud Jack McBain couldn’t play because the tournament features signed NHL prospects – so competing against them would be an NCAA no-no.

The glass half-full perspective: Minnesota got to see what some of its other picks could do. “The kids we do have here, like Adam Beckman or Matvey Guskov, we’re pretty pleased with them,” said Brad Bombardir. “They have worked hard, have some good sense for the game, have some knowledge of how to create space for themselves and hit holes with the puck with quickness and speed to get shots off. For these guys, it’s learning how to play on the inside of the ice, the grind game, the cycle work and defending. There’s a lot to learn, but overall we’re pleased with their effort.”

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