How NHL-Ready Sharks Bordeleau Was Watching World Juniors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
There’s no doubt that Thomas Bordeleau impressed during his brief stint with the Sharks last year.
In the last eight games of the 2021-22 NHL season, Bordeleau had five assists. He also scored one of the biggest goals of an otherwise disappointing Sharks campaign, a shootout winner against the Vegas Golden Knights that put their division rival’s playoff chances on life support. The win ended San Jose’s 11-game losing streak against Vegas.
So it only makes sense that Sharks fans could sign the 20-year-old center into the roster this coming season. However, two observers who watched Bordeleau recently at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in August put the brakes on that.
It’s not that Bordeleau hasn’t been terrific at the tournament: the center followed his cup of NHL coffee with a tour de force at the World Juniors, leading Team USA with eight points in only five games.
Chris Peters of FloHockey named Bordeleau the 18th best player of the tournament: “Bordeleau was a jack-of-all-trades for the USA.
But being a top-20 player at the World Juniors is far from an everyday NHL center.
“I haven’t necessarily seen a player that I think should be on the NHL roster tomorrow,” Peters told San Jose Hockey Now of Bordeleau’s performance at World Juniors. “Someone with his size profile needs to be able to impact the game on the scoresheet, and I don’t know if he’s going to do that straight away next season. That could help him rank among the AHL’s top six representatives and find his way as a productive two-way center to play at a higher level when he’s ready to reach the NHL.
For what it’s worth, the 5-foot-10 Bordeleau has been productive in the NHL. In addition to some highlight set-up passes, he’s also appeared in a number of SPORTLOGiQ microstats, which I recently reported on San Jose Hockey Now.
Bordeleau “was third among San Jose Sharks forwards, behind Tomas Hertl and Timo Meier, with 0:27 OZ Possession and 6.87 Offense-Generating Plays Per 20-5-5. He finished second with 1.57 Slot Pass Completed and 3.73 Puck Battle Wins Per 20.”
That’s a small sample size, but Hertl and Meier are the company you want to stick with when it comes to generating offense.
But there are more question marks than size with Bordeleau.
An NHL executive who has watched all the junior world championships told SJHN, “He definitely has to learn to play faster. Play with rhythm every shift.
Puck management was also an issue, at least in the best league in the world. Bordeleau had the worst of the Sharks with 3.84 gifts per 60, according to NHL.com. I know, tracking those numbers is unreliable, but it’s one of the few obstacles between Bordeleau and a day-to-day role in the NHL.
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Listen, Bordeleau is a great young player. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t love to have him in their system.
“I think Bordeleau showed a lot of what makes him a good player and a hopeful in the game. [World Juniors]Peters noted.
But a little patience never hurts a prospect.
“There’s no point in rushing him if he’s not ready,” warned Peters. “He already has a brain in the NHL, but I think he still has to reach another level before becoming a regular NHL player.